ISLAMABAD: While preparing dishes for her two sons and grandchildren, Sakeena Begum cannot stop gushing over how the delightful reunion of her children and family members on Eid ul-Adha, which has brought her pleasure.
“Normally, telephone calls are the only source to get in touch with my children as they are working in other cities. Eid is the only occasion where I get to see my children […] we are so excited to spend these blissful holidays together,” the 58-year-old resident of Lahore told Xinhua.
Eid ul-Adha festivities are in full swing in Pakistan, marked by sacrificing of animals, special congregational prayers, shopping sprees, family reunion, splendid feasts and charities.
This year, the government has announced holidays from July 8 to July 12 to celebrate the festival, with Pakistan Railways and Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) reducing fares up to 30 percent to facilitate travelers to meet their loved ones.
Begum said that she was unable to meet her children and family last year owing to the Covid-19 pandemic and the related restrictions, overshadowing the celebrations of the special occasion.
“I have no words to describe my feelings at the moment. This year has been full of blessings for me […] Today, my courtyard is filled with a lot of beautiful and colourful flowers,” she said, while pointing towards kids cheering and playing, wearing an array of different colour dresses.
After months of normalcy, Pakistan has recently been witnessing a surge in the number of Covid-19 cases, with officials advising people to exercise caution against the pandemic during the Eid festival to curb the spread of the virus.
In light of the recent uptick in cases, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) has recently issued fresh guidelines for the public to follow, emphasising on wearing face masks, social distancing and avoiding shaking hands and embracing.
Eid prayers should be organised in open spaces under stringent Covid-19 protocols, said the NCOC, adding that efforts should be made to encourage collective and online sacrificing of animals through public, private and community organisations to control the infection.
Eid ul-Adha always sees people splurging money on new dresses, gifts, and especially sacrificial animals, however, rising inflation and the critical situation of the national economy have seriously affected the purchasing power of the people, as prices of various commodities are at the highest levels.
Muhammad Abdullah, a government official in Islamabad, said that the recent hikes in petroleum products and electricity prices have made it difficult for common people to spend extravagantly even on special occasions like Eid.
“Our family used to buy two goats for sacrifice which cost around 80,000 rupees (about $400), but now the prices have gone up so much that we can only afford to buy one goat […] same is the case with other commodities,” Abdullah told Xinhua.
As Eid ul-Adha highlights the spirit of sacrifice and selflessness, a number of affluent individuals and charity organisations in the country remained busy helping needy people.
Talking with Xinhua, Khalid Malik, a philanthropist who runs a charity organisation in Rawalpindi, said people should extend help to others facing financial problems on Eid.
“We are distributing special Eid packages consisting of new dresses, food items and medicines to families hit hard by the high inflation rate […] Some of them cannot secure the minimum income needed for subsistence. Others could not get back on their feet after losing their jobs due to the pandemic,” Malik said.
“Everyone should uphold the spirit of charity and sharing on this special occasion as real happiness and merriment lie in making others’ lives easier and better,” he said.