3 Million Join Mass Prayer In Bangladesh

February 1, 2009

Author: Staff Writer

Source: The Associated Press


Some 3 million Muslims joined in a mass prayer ceremony Sunday in Bangladesh, capping an annual three-day event that is one of the world's largest religious gatherings.

The final prayer Sunday marked the closing of the World Congregation of Muslims, which began Friday on the sandy banks of the River Turag in a small industrial town just north of Dhaka, Bangladesh's capital.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and President Iajuddin Ahmed, along with hundreds of thousands of devotees, raised their hands in a prayer seeking blessings for all Muslims as well as global peace and prosperity.

The faithful arrived in packed buses, trains and boats at a 190-acre (77-hectare) riverside site. More than 10,000 security personnel were deployed to guard the congregation, said Hasan Mahmud Khandaker, director general of the elite force Rapid Action Battalion.

The annual congregation, or "Bishwa Ijtema," has been held each year since 1966. The gathering shuns politics and focuses on reviving the tenets of Islam and promoting peace and harmony. Participants discuss the Quran, Islam's holy book, pray, and listen to sermons by Islamic scholars from around the world.