LAHORE: Security and parking are the two biggest concerns as the major mosques in the city gear up for Eid prayers on Wednesday.
The largest gathering will be at Badshahi Masjid, which is expecting between 50,000 and 60,000 people. Every year VIPs including politicians and celebrities attend the prayer gathering. An Auqaf Department official said that this year the prayers would be led by Muhammed Jamil Rajar instead of Khatib Maulana Abdul Qadeer, who is on Hajj.
The security plan at Badshahi Masjid designates two grounds and Attique Stadium outside of the mosque complex as parking areas. The official said that this was expected to discourage some people from attending prayers there. He said VIPs would be allowed to drive up to the entrance of the mosque. The prayers will start at 8:45 am, with people expected to start arriving around 7 am.
Saiful Islam, the executive officer of Data Darbar, said he expected around 10,000 people to say their Eid prayers at the shrine. “People have to rush home for the sacrifice so we are expecting more people from areas close by,” he said.
The only available parking will be across the street from Data Darbar. “It is less busy here at Eid than during our Thursday night functions,” he said. “And we do not have to deal with VIP issues like at Badshahi Masjid.”
He said extra security measures had been put in place around the shrine complex, which was the target of a double suicide bombing last July. Two station house officers and two deputy superintendents of police would be on high alert during the prayers, he added.
Imam Muhammed Sialvi will lead the prayers at Data Darbar.
Up to 10,000 people are also expected to say their Eid prayers at Jamia Naeemia Masjid, where Barelvi cleric Maulana Raghib Hussain Naeemi will deliver the sermon. Jamia Naeemia spokesman Muhammed Ziaul Haq said that the Eid congregation was usually a mix of locals from Garhi Shahu as well as people from all over the province who come to visit the famous Jamia Naeemia. People also came for the mass sacrifice after the prayers, which he said was the largest in the city.
The major Shiite gathering will be at the Islampura Imambargah, where 4,000-5,000 are expected on Eid morning. Fourteen policemen will patrol the area during prayers, while the mosque also has its own security team of volunteers. Some 1,500-2,000 Shiites are expected at the Jamia Al Muntazir mosque in Model Town, and 1,000-2,000 are expected at the Nasser Bagh congregation.
Jamaatud Dawa Ameer Hafiz Saeed will lead Eid prayers at Gaddafi Stadium at 8:00am. His spokesman Yayha Mujahid said that the sermon would last around half an hour. Around 8,000 supporters typically pray there on Eid day. Saeed has been leading Eid prayers at Gaddafi Stadium for around 10 years, he said.
Jamaat-i-Islami Ameer Syed Munawar Hassan will lead the prayers at Mansoora near Multan Road; Dr Fareed Ahmed Piracha, the deputy secretary of the JI, will lead the prayers at the Bilal Masjid at New Garden Town; and Hafiz Muhammed Idrees, director of Idara Maarif-i-Islami, will lead the prayers at a mosque in Model Town.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 17th, 2010.