Muslims in different countries around the world, including the United States, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Indonesia and Afghanistan, were observing on Tuesday yet another Ediul Azha in the shadow of the pandemic and amid growing concerns about the highly infectious Delta variant of the coronavirus. Eidul Azha is typically marked by communal prayers, large social gatherings, and, for many, slaughtering of livestock and giving meat to the needy. This year, the holiday comes as many countries battle the Delta variant first identified in India, prompting some to impose new restrictions or issue appeals for people to avoid congregating and follow safety protocols. Scaled-down Haj The pandemic has already taken a toll for the second year on Haj. Once drawing some 2.5 million Muslims from across the globe to the holy city of Makkah in Saudi Arabia, the pilgrimage has been dramatically scaled back due to the virus. This year, 60,000 vaccinated Saudi citizens or residents of Saudi Arabia have been allowed to perform the Haj, preventing Muslims from other countries from fulfilling the Islamic obligation. Indonesia Indonesia marked a grim Eidul Azha amid a devastating new wave of coronavirus cases in the world’s most populous Muslim majority nation. Large gatherings were banned and tougher travel restrictions were imposed. Vice President Ma’ruf Amin, also an influential cleric, appealed to people to perform holiday prayers at home with their families. “Don’t do crowds,” Amin said in televised remarks ahead of the start of the holiday. “Protecting oneself from the Covid-19 pandemic is obligatory.” Malaysia In Malaysia, measures have been tightened after a sharp spike in infections despite a national lockdown since June 1 – people are banned from travelling back to their hometowns or crossing districts to celebrate. House visits and customary trips to graveyards are also banned. Healthy worshippers are allowed to gather for prayers in mosques, with strict social distancing and no physical contact. Ritual animal sacrifice is limited to mosques and other approved areas. Health Director General Noor Hisham Abdullah has urged Malaysians not to “repeat irresponsible behaviour”, adding that travel and celebrations during Eidul Fitr and another festival on the island of Borneo led to new clusters of cases. “Let us not, in the excitement of celebrating the Feast of Sacrifice, cause us all to perish because of Covid-19,” he said in a statement. Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin urged Muslims to stay home. “I appeal to you all to be patient and abide by the rules because your sacrifice is a great jihad (holy war) in Allah’s sight and in our effort to save lives,” he said in a televised speech on the eve of the festival. Australia Lockdowns will severely curtail Eidul Azha festivities in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia’s two largest cities. Sydney resident Jihad Dib, a New South Wales state government lawmaker, said the city’s Muslims were sad but understood why they would be confined to their homes with no visitors allowed. “It’s going to be the first Eid in my life I don’t hug and kiss my mum and dad,” Dib told Australian Broadcasting Corp. Melbourne Muslims face their second Eidul Azha in lockdown in as many years. The sudden announcement of the Melbourne lockdown last week will also deal a huge financial blow to retailers who had stocked up on food ahead of what they thought would be usual Eid festivities. Iran Iran on Monday imposed a week-long lockdown on the capital, Tehran, and the surrounding region as the country struggles with another surge in the coronavirus pandemic, state media reported. The lockdown begins on Tuesday (today). Bangladesh Not everyone is imposing new restrictions. In Bangladesh, authorities have allowed an eight-day pause in the country’s strict lockdown for the holiday that health experts say could be dangerous. Egypt In Egypt, Essam Shaban travelled to his southern hometown of Sohag to spend Eidul Azha with his family. He said ahead of the start of the holiday that he planned to pray at a mosque there on Tuesday while taking precautions such as bringing his own prayer rug and wearing a mask.