Hyderabad, Oct 2 (IANS) Muslims celebrated Eid-ul-Fitr with religious fervour and gaiety across Andhra Pradesh Thursday.
Thousands of Muslims offered prayers at Eidgahs (prayer grounds) and mosques to mark the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Relatives and friends exchanged greetings and treated each other to special sweet dishes.
The biggest congregation was at the historic Mir Alam Eidgah here where over 300,000 Muslims offered prayers. The historic Mecca Masjid and Eidgah Madannapet as well as other prayer grounds and mosques also witnessed huge gatherings. The faithful prayed for peace and prosperity.
The devotees also prayed for veteran Muslim leader Sultan Salahuddin Owaisi, who died Monday. Owaisi, who represented the Hyderabad Lok Sabha constituency for two decades, died after prolonged illness.
The clerics exhorted Muslims to continue pious deeds even after Ramadan and abide by the Quran.
Before the prayers, Muslims gave fitra or a specified amount of money to poor and the needy. It is compulsory for every financially sound Muslim to give fitra before the prayers so that the poor and the needy can also celebrate Eid.
The fitra is in addition to zakaat or a kind of wealth tax that every Muslim, having specified wealth, has to pay once a year. Zakaat, which is 2.5 percent on the specified wealth, is paid during Ramadan and is aimed at ensuring proper distribution of wealth.
After the prayers, the Muslims exchanged greetings with relatives and friends. Scenes of communal harmony were witnessed as non-Muslims including politicians and police officers greeted Muslims.
People then began visiting the houses of their near and dear ones. The guests were treated with sheer korma, a special sweet dish made of vermicelli, milk and dry fruits.
Police had made elaborate security arrangements around the Eidgahs and mosques.
Muslims also celebrated Eid in other parts of the state. Huge gatherings were seen in major cities and towns like Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam, Guntur, Nizamabad, Karimnagar, Warangal and Adilabad.
Muslims constitute about 10 percent of the state's 77 million population. In Hyderabad, they are about 40 percent of the city's seven million population.