After remaining closed for more than 21 weeks owing to Covid19 lockdown, Friday prayers were held for the first time at historic Jamia Masjid Srinagar, Dargah Hazratbal and other mosques of the Valley. Emotional scenes were witnessed at both Jamia Masjid and Dargah Hazratbal, where people were seen following social distancing to prevent the spread of Covid19.
An elderly woman who broke down while speaking to media persons outside Jamia Masjid said she was "overwhelmed" to offer congregational prayers after such a long time. "It has been one year ever since prayers were often not held at this grand Masjid due to different reasons. It is an emotional moment for all of us today," said the elderly woman.
The congregational Friday prayers were offered at the Jamia Masjid after the recent announcement of Anjuman Auqaf. On August 16, authorities allowed reopening of all religious places in Kashmir as part of a plan for gradual return of normal life while asking devotees to follow all guidelines and SOPs.
On Friday, as soon as the adhan echoed from the minarets of Jamia Masjid, a large number of people including men and women started moving towards the masjid. They offered the congregational Friday prayers observing all measures of physical distancing and other SOPs including wearing of face masks.
Meanwhile, the management and people have demanded immediate release of the Anjuman Auqaf Jamia Masjid Chairman Mirwaiz Moulvi Muhammad Umar Farooq from house detention. They said Mirwaiz must be allowed to resume the centuries-old tradition of his forefathers of addressing the people from the pulpit of the Jamia Masjid.
"Today people made special prayers seeking prevention from the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, and the drought-like situation in Valley and other problems and challenges Kashmiris are facing," the statement issued by the management said. Dar-ul-Khair Mirwaiz Manzil had put in place the arrangements for providing free masks to those who had come to the Jamia Masjid without one, a practice that will continue for all prayers at the Masjid, the statement added.
Similarly, Friday prayers were held at other prominent mosques of the Valley including Dargah Hazratbal shrine.
"All necessary SOPs were followed and worshippers had well spread out to offer the prayers. The worshippers were present even in the lawns to offer prayers to ensure that enough social distancing was observed," said Masood Amin, administrator of the Dargah Hazratbal shrine.
Friday prayers were also offered at the shrine of Peer Dastageer Sahab (RA) Khanyar in downtown Srinagar during which SOPs were followed, a member of the shrine administration said. "We had deputed supervisors who ensured that all guidelines are being properly followed by the worshippers", the administration member said.
However, Friday prayers were not held at the shrine of Makhdoom Sahab (RA), which as per administration of the shrine will re-open for prayers from Saturday.
A large number of worshippers also offered Friday prayers at the shrine of Khankah-e-Moula in downtown Srinagar, where social distancing measures were followed. Prayers were also held at the Chrari-Shareef shrine in which a large number of worshippers participated. The congregational Friday prayers were also offered at historic Jamia Masjid Bhaderwah after the administration eased the restrictions.