After a gap of two years, mosques returned to normal, as Muslims across Pakistan attended the first Taraweeh prayers on Saturday night without COVID-19 restrictions.
Worshippers thronged the mosques – including the famous Badshahi Mosque and Data Darbar Mosque – right after the Ramazan moon was sighted, as they were allowed to pray side by side without observing any social distancing for the first time since 2020. Special arrangements were also made in mosques for women and girls, and their separate prayer halls – usually located on the first floor of the mosques – reopened on Saturday night so that they could attend the Taraweeh prayers as well as special religious lectures/lessons arranged by the administrations of various mosques.
Taraweeh and obligatory prayers were allowed in Ramazan during the past two years, with directives for mosque administrations to strictly adhere to COVID-19 standard operating procedures as well as additional rules, but the government authorities were unable to enforce the same due to severe resistance by religious leaders.
However, this year brought joy for the worshippers, as all COVID-19-related restrictions were lifted by the government in the third week of March due to the constantly declining number of cases. Mosque administrations across the Lahore had started preparations for the holy month a day earlier, cleaning/washing not just the prayer halls and courtyards but also the streets outside to facilitate the worshippers. Moreover, scores of people were also witnessed preparing meals for those attending the religious lectures/lessons at mosques at night.
Earlier, the Central Ruet-e-Hilal Committee had announced that Ramazan moon has been sighted on Saturday evening, and Sunday will be the first day of fasting.
Committee Chairman Maulana Abdul Khabeer Azad had made the announcement after a meeting in Peshawar, while zonal committees of the body also met in Lahore, Quetta, Karachi, Islamabad and other cities.
The moon was sighted in Lahore, Narowal, Islamabad, Sialkot, Kasur, Pakpattan, Kharian, Karak, and other cities. Leaders of religious parties, clerics and politicians congratulated the nation on the start of Ramazan.