Bangladesh Takes a Break from the Covid Blockade for Eid
On Wednesday, tens of millions of Bangladeshis defied a Covid-19 spike to attend prayers in crowded mosques and open spaces, as Muslims slaughtered record numbers of animals for the Eid al-Adha festival.
For a week, the government has eased a severe curfew, allowing millions of people to return to their villages for the Muslim-majority country’s second-largest religious festival.
The 169 million-strong South Asian nation, where two-thirds of the population lives in villages, has seen a spike in coronavirus diagnoses and deaths in recent weeks that shows no signs of abating.
This is despite a strict lockdown in place since July 1 that has shut down transportation, offices, and deployed the military to prevent people from leaving except for emergencies and vital supplies.
More than a million Bangladeshis have been infected, with over 18,000 deaths – figures that are widely considered to be an undercount. The Delta variety, which was initially discovered in India, has been blamed for the spike.
People in traditional dress hugged each other and watched butchers slaughter cows and goats for the three-day holiday on Wednesday as the streets of Dhaka took on a festive look.
A record 11.9 million cows, goats, buffaloes, and lambs have been prepared for sacrifice this Eid, according to Iftekhar Hossain, a spokesman for the livestock ministry.
Authorities, he added, have established an app to promote online animal sales in order to reduce crowds at cattle markets and prevent the spread of coronavirus.
“A total of 387,000 cows and goats were sold online for the first time,” he stated.
The Eid al-Adha livestock auction is a $10 billion industry that is one of rural Bangladesh’s main economic drivers.
It’s one of the main reasons why the government decided to break the lockdown and allow cattle producers to bring their animals into the cities.
“Last year, we had to struggle owing to the lockdown,” said Mohammad Ali, a farmer. We, along with our families, would have to starve this year if the lockdown was not lifted.”
Ali arrived in Dhaka with 20 cows from Kushtia’s western border district.
Hundreds of thousands of people flocked to the Gabtoli cattle market, the capital’s largest, late Tuesday night for last-minute animal purchases.
“This is a trying moment. During Eid, however, an animal must be sacrificed. How can I deny that as an adherent of Islam? Yasir Arafat, 39, said, “That’s why I came to the market to buy a cow.” Brief News from Washington Newsday.