Forlorn presidential palace as virus mutes Eid celebrations in Bangladesh

  • Sajidul Haque, Bangabhaban Correspondent, bdnews24.com
    Published: 2020-05-25 12:09:29 BdST

The global COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the regular Eid celebrations at the Bangabhaban, the residence of the president.

Every Eid, the presidential palace opens to visitors of all classes and professions to mark the occasion, but the threat of the coronavirus has created a different atmosphere this year.

The concern over the rampaging virus is reflected in President Abdul Hamid’s message. “This year Eid-ul-Fitr comes at a time when the world has been disrupted by the coronavirus. The virus has been steadily spreading in Bangladesh too. It is very important for us to fulfil our social obligations and prevent the coronavirus from spreading further,” he said.

Courts, offices and public transports were closed from Mar 26 to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The government instructed everyone to remain at home as much as possible, to only go outside in case of emergencies and to follow social distancing and health and safety regulations.

Though strict restrictions on prayer gatherings at mosques had been lifted ahead of Eid, the government ordered people to pray in their local mosques instead of large open-air spaces.

The Ministry of Religious Affairs also laid out a set of rules regarding protective measures and health codes for Eid prayers, saying it would take ‘legal action’ against those who were caught violating them.

Many of the familiar sights of Eid are missing this year and can even be seen at the Bangabhaban.

The president usually celebrates each Eid with prayers at the National Eidgah, before returning to the Bangabhaban to exchange greetings with members of his family and government officials.

This year, President Hamid attended Eid prayers at the Bangabhaban Audience Chamber alongside members of his family and ‘essential’ personnel.

Traditionally, the president, alongside his wife Rashida Khanam and other members of his family, had welcomed guests of all backgrounds and professions at the Bangabhaban in the past to exchange greetings on the occasion.

Guests in attendance included members of the cabinet and parliament, members of the High Court, and leaders from the fields of politics, education, culture and arts, business and religion.

The guests would be entertained in various ways. During the event, the president would present his Eid greetings to all through the media and converse with his guests.

Several hundred members of law enforcement would be assigned to this event at the Bangabhaban. They would patrol the area in front of the Bangabhaban compound and provide security.

“Due to the coronavirus, the Bangabhaban is not holding an official event this year,” Press Secretary to the President Md Joynal Abedin told bdnews24.com.

The president took part in Eid prayers at the Audience Chamber, with members of his family and essential personnel joining him there. After the prayer services, the president spent time with his family, the press secretary said.

“I have been working at the Bangabhaban for 20 years,” one Bangabhaban worker told bdnews24.com. “I have been on duty every Eid. I have never seen the Bangabhaban so empty on this day.”

PRESIDENT HAMID’S MESSAGE

“We should not put our lives or those of others in danger while celebrating Eid,” President Hamid said in a statement from the Bangabhaban on Monday, which was televised after the Eid prayers.

The president sent his Eid greetings to all during his speech. “Eid-ul-Fitr is the main religious festival celebrated by Muslims,” he said. “After a month of fasting and abstinence, we celebrate Eid as a joyous occasion. This joy spreads among all, in the cities and villages, across Bangladesh and the entire world.”

“But this year Eid-ul-Fitr comes at a time when the world has been disrupted by the coronavirus. The virus has been steadily spreading in Bangladesh too. It is very important for us to fulfil our social obligations and prevent the coronavirus from spreading further.”

“Let us celebrate Eid at home and try and support those who are suffering. Let us follow the health regulations and encourage others to do so.”

The president also expressed his ‘deep grief’ at the loss of life due to Covid-19 and Cyclone Amphan.