National

Vic Muslims get creative with Eid al-Adha

By AAP Newswire

Victorian Muslims have been creative this weekend as they celebrate the festival of Eid al-Adha.

Typically marked with mosque visits and family get-togethers, the annual 'Festival of Sacrifice' is the last of two annual holidays celebrated by Muslims everywhere.

Melbourne residents in the nine towers subject to strict lockdown orders in early July house many members of the Islamic faith.

On Saturday, there were 311 active cases across the North Melbourne and Flemington public housing buildings meaning many residents continue in isolation.

The Australian Muslim Social Services Agency, which has been tirelessly providing for residents since strict lockdowns were enforced, decided at the last minute to bring Eid gifts to every household.

Volunteers packed 1500 bags with traditional middle eastern sweets, arts, crafts and toys and delivered them on Friday to all nine towers, including to the non-Muslim residents.

AMSSA Youth Connect project manager Abdiqafar Ururshe said it was special to see the excitement on faces of the children.

"Their parents were just saying 'thank you so much for bringing Eid to our homes'," he told AAP.

In pre-pandemic times, up to 2000 of these residents would congregate downstairs from the Flemington towers for annual Eid al-Adha celebrations, so a quiet Eid had an element of sadness.

But Mr Ururshe said people's efforts to stay home at this time were an act of sacrifice for the greater good - a fitting parallel with the themes of the festival.

Muslims believe the Prophet Abraham was tested by God who commanded him to sacrifice his first-born son Ishmail. Abraham showed his commitment to God by being prepared to do as he was told. Instead, God told him to sacrifice a lamb.

Eid al-Adha also marks the culmination of the hajj - a spiritual pilgrimage - to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

The Preston Mosque community in the city's north is embracing video conferencing for Eid family catch-ups, the chair of the mosque building Moustafa Fahour OAM said.

It was sad not to be able to attend the mosque, but more quality time with family was a plus, he said.

"It's part of our religion to abide by these lockdowns to protect our community and our country," Mr Fahour said.

The Islamic community in Bendigo in central Victoria is not yet subject to stage three restrictions but restrictions on gatherings mean limitations on celebrations are the same.

Community spokesman Heri Febriyanto said prayers and speeches were broadcast to members, many of whom are healthcare workers, via Zoom.

The Department of Health and Human Services on Saturday urged Victorians to protect their community during Eid al-Adha.

"We understand this is a sacrifice for Victorian Muslims, but while we may be physically apart, we can be spiritually connected," Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said.