Muslims across Kerala on Friday gathered in mosques and special prayer centres to celebrate Eid-ul-Azha, or Bakrid, the festival of sacrifice.

Soon after the morning prayers, thousands of devotees sacrificed goats and other animals. Meat was also donated to the poor in the spirit of sacrifice and giving that the festival symbolises.

The biggest crowds were seen in the Muslim-dominated Malappuram district as well as in places such as Kozhikode and Kochi.

Bakrid is one of the most important festivals in the Muslim calendar. It commemorates Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son on Allah’s command. According to Islamic belief, Allah wanted to test Ibrahim and told him to sacrifice his son Ismail.

He agreed to do it, but found his paternal feelings hard to suppress. So, he blindfolded himself before putting Ismail at the altar on Mount Mina near Mecca. When he removed his blindfold after the sacrifice, he saw his son standing in front of him.

On the altar lay slaughtered a lamb. It is in honour of this test of faith that Muslims around the world sacrifice animals on the occasion to show their faith in Allah.

Huge crowds were seen outside mutton stalls across the state since Thursday evening. The price of mutton skyrocketed, touching Rs.250 per kg.

This year Malayalam superstar Mammootty, a devout Muslim, decided to celebrate the festival in Chennai to be with his family.

“In Tamil Nadu, this is being celebrated tomorrow (Saturday) and since it was convenient for my son and daughter to be in Chennai, we decided that my wife and I will celebrate there,” Mammootty said.