Thousands in Bangladesh for 2nd largest Muslim meet
DHAKA: Tens of thousands of people from 71 different countries began gathering in Bangladesh on Thursday for a three-day world Muslim congregation, considered the second-largest after the Haj pilgrimage in Mecca.
Officials in the town of Tongi, close to the site of the 39th “Biswas Ijtema” — or World Muslim Congregation which starts Friday — said devotees were arriving by bus, train, truck and on foot.
Security was tight around a sprawling area on the bank of the Turag river, 20 kilometres (12 miles) from Dhaka, where the event will take place. The huge gathering, which organisers say could bring together some two million devotees, ends Sunday with traditional mass prayers seeking forgiveness and divine blessings.
The ceremony is to be conducted by a leader of the worldwide Muslim group, Tablig Jamaat, who normally travels to Bangladesh from neighbouring India, officials said.
Eminent religious figures Thursday started delivering sermons on Islam between prayers and recitations from the Koran.
Bangladeshi leaders, including Prime Minister Khaleda Zia and main opposition leader Sheikh Hasina Wajed, were likely to join the mass prayers as in previous years, organisers said. —AFP