>rain halts Bishwa Ijtema, devotees go home

>three die: Akheri Munajat held on opening day

DEVOTEES in thousands departed from Islam’s second biggest pilgrimage in Bangladesh today after rain and winter chill forced the organisers to end the annual congregation ahead of schedule, cutting it to just one-day from three in an unprecedented incident.
Bishaw Ijtema, Islam’s second biggest pilgrimage after the Hajj, began today on the bank of the Turag river north of the capital, drawing hundreds of thousands of Muslims from around the world amidst drizzle coupled with a a cold spell, the first the city dwellers experiencing during this winter which is about to adieu the delta.

Throughout the day, devotees swathed in thick woollen shawls and headscarves listened to scholars and preachers discussing teachings of Islam and Prophet Mohammad.
The three elderly pilgrims died since Thursday night due to the cold wave sweeping through the country. The deceased are Ali Ashraf, 55, from Bogra, and Raqibuddin, 70, and Giasuddin, 80, from Pabna.
Considering that the devotees, mostly elderly men, were unable to withstand the bad weather, the organisers decided to hold the final prayer, previously due on Sunday, tonight.
The akheri munajat (concluding prayers) of this year’s ijtema started at 7:55pm (BDT) ending at 8:15pm. Amidst forecast that the rain would continue for three more days and the cold would intensify, the devotees, many soaked and shivering, scrambled to board buses, trains and boats to leave the Ijtema site at Tongi, a northern suburb of Dhaka.
Security was tightened against possible militant attacks at the event which drew believers from Bangladesh, the Middle East, South Asia, the United States, Russia and Europe.
(Read The Daily Star article)


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