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Chinese Muslims mark end of holy month


Updated: 2015-07-17 22:03:01

Chinese Muslims mark end of holy month

Muslims pray in a mosque in Xi'an, the capital of Northwest China's Shaanxi province on July 17, 2015. Chinese Muslims joined today the Eid al-Fitr festivity, marking the end of the month of Ramadan for Muslims across the world. [Photo/Xinhua]

BEIJING -- Millions of Muslims across China began celebrating Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, on Friday.

The start of the Eid al-Fitr varies based on the observation of the new moon by local religious authorities. Northwest China's Qinghai and Gansu provinces started celebrating the festival on Friday while the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region will mark it on Saturday.

"It is auspicious that the Eid al-Fitr falls on the same day as Jumu'ah (Day of Assembly) when everybody goes to the mosque for Friday prayers," said Ma Yun, a Hui minority and head of the Dongguan mosque administration committee in Xining, capital of Qinghai Province.

"It was not until 9 p.m. on Thursday we finally decided that Eid al-Fitr would fall on Friday this year," said Ma, adding that it was coincidence that Malaysian Muslims mark the festival on the same day.

Some 300,000 Muslims, most of whom are ethnic Hui, visited the Dongguan Mosque on Friday. Some came as early as 3 a.m. to reserve a place in the prayer hall.

Ma Jun, a snack shop owner, wearing a pristine robe and white hat, prayed in a queue of people that stretches as far as 5 kilometers outside the mosque, with the voices of Imams coming from loudspeakers. The Arabic prayer is first, followed by a Chinese version.

A middle-aged woman is distributing cash to children at a crossroads outside the mosque. Within half an hour, 600 yuan ($98) was handed out to 600 children. "Whether they are ethnic Han or Tibetan, I just want them to be happy," said the woman.

In neighboring Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, where more than half of the 22 million population are Muslims, business is flourishing due to the celebrations.

Malik Nurlan, a young Kazakh man, suffered pains in his arm after a whole day chopping meat.

"So many people are buying beef and mutton!" said Nurlan, who sold 11 sheep and two cows in a single day.

With about 20 million Muslims in China, the event is also celebrated in other provinces or cities such as Gansu, Ningxia and Beijing.

Thousands of Muslims went to Niujie Mosque in downtown Beijing on Friday afternoon. Tens of thousands more will come on Saturday when Eid al-Fitr formally falls in the capital, said Chang Chongyu, head of the mosque administration office.

In Ningxia, where most of the Hui minority lives, a five-day holiday will begin on Saturday. Highways and most scenic spots will be free of charge during the holiday.

"I will have a family get-together in the first two days and spend the other days sightseeing with my kids," said Yang Li, who works in a government department in the regional capital of Yinchuan.

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