BBC News: Millions head to Muslim festival (Tongi 2009) February 18, 2009Posted by Liliek in Karguzari.
Millions head to Muslim festival Muslim pilgrims from Bangladesh and the rest of the world are gathering near Dhaka for the Biswa Ijtema festival intended to promote Islam.
More than than three million devotees are expected to attend the final day on Sunday. The gathering is second only to the Hajj in numbers.
About 87% of Bangladesh’s 150 million people are Muslim.
The gathering has been held every year since 1966 and includes prayer sessions and discussions of the Koran.
The BBC’s Mark Dummett in Dhaka says that the scale of the festival, also called the World Congregation of Muslims, is enormous.
“We all have come here to pray to our Lord the merciful so that he brings peace upon everyone in the world and to every nation,” one pilgrim told the BBC.
Organisers say that devotees from more than 150 countries will attend the event over the weekend.
Our correspondent says that because the gathering is a spiritual event, politics will not be discussed.
Officials say that more than 10,000 security personnel have been deployed to guard the congregation and oversee the safety of pilgrims who travel by train, boat and road to the industrial town of Tongi, north of Dhaka.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina greeted the devotees and said the gathering would contribute to peace.
“I think Biswa Ijtema has been significantly contributing to the spread of the essence of Islam such as universal peace, fraternity, honesty and generosity,” she said.
Story from BBC NEWS: http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/world/south_asia/7860579.stm
Published: 2009/01/30 12:28:47 GMT © BBC MMIX