Millions of Chinese Muslims celebrate Eid al-Fitr

Updated 2017-06-27 09:41:26 Xinhua

Millions of Muslims in China are joining communities across the world to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

Festivities started Sunday in the provinces of Qinghai and Gansu. Other regions with a large Muslim presence celebrated it on Monday.

In Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, home to two million Muslims, employees were given a three-day holiday on top of the weekend.

People packed early morning prayers.

"Eid al-Fitr is the most important festival for Muslims," said Qian Shangli, 76, who has lived in Ningxia for nearly half a century.

A devout Muslim, Qian said he has severe knee pain, but he did not let that stop him from attending mosque.

"I can't kneel to pray but the important thing is I am here," he said. "Peace and harmony are the key messages of Eid."

In Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, where more than half of its 23-million population are Muslim, Monday was also a public holiday.

In the city of Aksu in western Xinjiang, hundreds of Muslims gather at Reyset Jama Mosque early in the morning.

The mosque has only been open since late May. It features a large prayer hall, about the size of two tennis courts, and a 100-space parking lot.

"The prayer area has tripled. It is clean and has blankets, heaters and lamps," said Abliz Barat, 70, who was comparing it with the mosque he usually went to.

Large crowds were at mosques in Qinghai Province to mark Eid al-Fitr a day earlier.

On Sunday alone, about 110,000 people visited Dongguan Mosque in the provincial capital of Xining, said Ma Yun, director of the mosque management committee.

"We prayed for a peaceful world, a thriving nation, and family well-being," he said.

Visiting relatives and friends is another big tradition.

Highway toll fees in some regions are waived for private vehicles during the holiday. Like during Spring Festival, many urban residents return to their rural homes to be with their relatives.

Ma Heimai flew all the way from Malaysia to visit Hualong Hui Autonomous County, Qinghai, his hometown. He opened a restaurant in Kuala Lumpur to sell his hometown's specialty -- lamian, a traditional hand-pulled beef noodles.

In Xinjiang, Abliz Barat told Xinhua that he would take a five-day break for Eid to visit relatives or welcome them to his home.

"I have prepared cash gifts for my grandchildren, and will slaughter a goat for a feast," he said.

Lamb farmer Turgun Abduwahit was happy with the recent bout of brisk business. He said he had sold more than 100 goats, which would be slaughtered and sit pride of place on a family's banqueting table.

He often invites Han Chinese to his house to enjoy the family celebration.

Yang Heping, who brought gifts to Abduwahit family this year, said he usually celebrated festivals like Eid al-Fitr with his Muslim friends, and invites them round for Lunar New Year.

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