A day of joy for Muslims in the Deep South as they celebrate the Hari Raya Haji
September 24 coincides with the Eid al-Adha or Hari Raya Haji, a major Islamic holiday for Muslims all over the world to mark an end to the Ramadan.
In the three southernmost provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat, tens of thousands of Muslims gathered in public places such as stadiums, besides masjids, to pray since the morning.
In Yala province, Governor Samart Waradisai, accompanied by Deputy Governor Udorn Noitaptim and other provincial officials paid a visit to the provincial youth centre where the Muslims gathered to pray and to perform other activities.
Mr Udorn said that praying on the Hari Raya Haji is a very important activity for Muslims of all walks of life. After saying the prayers, it will be followed by a religious lecture conducted by an imam after which the Muslims will express good wishes to one another and seek forgiveness from one another. Also, they will make donations to the less fortunate, visit ancestors’ graves and visit their relatives or individuals they hold in respect.
Hari Raya is a joyous celebration that involves happy feasting in homes everywhere where family members greet another.
Seven-year Fadel Sulong whose father was killed in the southern conflict, told Isranews that, after saying the prayers, he would rush home to pick up food from a generous elder who said he could take as much as he has wanted.
Fadel said he was very happy because, besides the food, he would receive a token of money from the kind man as well.
16-year old Saroj Arba from Pattani admitted that he rarely had meat for food. But during the Hari Raya Haji, he said he had meat on his dish for several days and, besides, he would receive donations which were enough to support his school term.
Above all, the Hari Raya celebration provide a temporary respite to the people, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, from the seemingly endless violence which has been taking place on almost daily basis in the restive region.