Thousands of Muslims Tuesday congregated at various mosques and grounds to celebrate Idd-ul-Adha in defiance of Chief Kadhi Sheikh Ahmed Muhdhar's advisory.
Sheikh Muhdhar had earlier declared Wednesday as the day of celebrations since the moon had not been sighted in the country. But many of the faithful marked the Festival of Sacrifice yesterday.
For yet another year, there were differences on the sighting of the moon as Muslim scholars and leaders clashed over the exact day of celebrations.
"The Idd celebrations are marked today (Tuesday) and not tomorrow. But no prayers were conducted in mosques or grounds, this is because of the measures set to curb the spread of coronavirus pandemic," said Mohammed Omar, a Kenya Muslim National Advisory Council official.
In Busia, Muslims gathered in homes due to the strict Covid-19 health protocols in place. President Uhuru Kenyatta placed the Western region on a 60-day partial lockdown to contain the spread of the deadly virus. Other affected counties are Kisumu, Siaya, Homa Bay, Migori, Busia, Kakamega, Vihiga, Bungoma, Kisii, Nyamira, Kericho, Bomet and Trans Nzoia.
Holiday amid pandemic
In Mombasa, the faithful attended prayers in various grounds across the county. It's the second time Muslims are observing the holiday amid a pandemic.
"The prayers have been conducted outside in open grounds due to the coronavirus pandemic. It was one of the measures set to curb the spread of Covid-19," Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya (CIPK) national commissioner Sheikh Hassan Omar said.
Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho joined hundreds of Muslims for prayers at Ummul Kulthum grounds. Others congregated at Tononoka and Serani while in Kwale County they celebrated at Ukunda grounds.
In North Eastern, believers gathered in mosques with many wearing masks and observing the tough health protocols.
"Very few have conducted the prayers on open grounds. Most of them attended prayers in mosques. But people carried their own prayer mats and wore face masks," said Abdimalik Ismail, a resident.
Idd-ul-Adha follows the end of the holy rituals of Hajj. It's a time for Muslims to be joyous and celebrate their dedication throughout the 10 days of fasting during Dhul Hijja.
On this day, Muslims are forbidden from fasting and are required to sacrifice either a goat or sheep.
Due to the tough economic situation, many believers complained of how expensive goats and sheep were this year.
"Things have become worse with the pandemic. We used to buy goats at Sh4,500, but now it ranges between Sh6,000 and Sh10,000. It's really tough out there," said Ali Mohammed, a Mombasa resident.