The usually filled National Festival of Arts and Culture (NAFAC) park in the Bolgatanga Municipality of the Upper East Region on Sunday was deserted as Muslims observed the Eid-ul Fitr prayers at their respective residences.
At about 0900hours when the Ghana News Agency monitored activities within the Township, it was observed that major streets which hitherto had Muslims troop to the park from their homes during Eid-Ul-Fitr celebrations were as quiet as a cemetery.
The GNA observed that even though most major shops in the Municipality on Sundays were often closed while residents went about their normal daily activities, the situation on this occasion looked exceptionally different as the main commercial street leading to the Regional Central mosque and the Chief Imam’s residence was virtually empty.
Mr Ahmed Ibrahim, a Muslim told the GNA in an interview that “This COVID-19 pandemic has kept us indoors. We cannot move out to join colleagues at prayer centres or visit loved ones as we use to do.”
He said the only difference in the celebration was that they avoided gatherings and visits, adding, “My family and I prayed in the house. Eid-Ul-Fitr celebration usually attracts a crowd and because that aspect is absent, it appears the excitement is missing.”
Mr Abdul-Rauf Kulbugri, another Muslim in the Municipality who expressed his view about this year’s celebration amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, said the virus had affected the celebrations in diverse ways.
He said the celebration was usually characterized by sharing of food after the main prayer session in the Region led by the Chief Imam, coupled with visits by friends and relatives. “This morning I prayed with my family. We will cook and just share with few neighbours, and continue to stay home.”
“We are not in normal times, so we need to stay safe and healthy to celebrate subsequent Eid-Ul-Fitr celebrations after COVID-19. We have fasted and prayed to the most merciful Allah to intercede in these difficult times, so we are hopeful that our prayers will be answered,” Mr Kulbugri said.
Meanwhile, Alhaji Yussif Adams, the Upper East Regional Chief Imam who led a virtual prayer session, prayed for government and peace in the country, especially as Ghana prepared for the Presidential and Parliamentary elections.
He prayed for the health professionals, Journalists, security service personnel and asked for Almighty Allah’s blessings and protection for them in their line of duty which exposed them to the COVID-19 virus.
Alhaji Adams noted that the fasting and intercessory prayers offered by Muslims across the world would not be in vain, and was hopeful that Almighty Allah would stretch His merciful and healing hand over Ghana and all over the world and take the COVID-19 virus away.
He called on residents in the Region to continue to co-exist peacefully and observe the Ghana Health Service (GHS) protocols in the fight against the virus.
Madam Tangoba Abayage, the Upper East Regional Minister in an earlier goodwill message to Muslims, noted that the Muslim community in the Region cooperated with the GHS protocols in the prevention of the spread of the virus.
“As we celebrate Eid-Ul-Fitr somewhat on a low key this year, let us remain resolute; we are only constrained but not broken. There is light at the end of the tunnel and we should allow the virtues cultivated during Ramadan to spur us on to the end,” she said.