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What is Eid al-Adha, and how is it being celebrated this year?

July 31, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

People are social distanced as they gather to pray at Minhaj-ul-Quran Mosque, at the start of Eid al-Adha, in London, Friday, July 31, 2020. Britain???s health secretary is defending the government???s abrupt re-imposition of restrictions on social life across a swath of northern England. Matt Hancock says it's important to clamp down quickly on new outbreaks of COVID-19. The affected region has a large Muslim population, and the restrictions come prior to the Eid al-Adha holiday starting on Friday. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

One of the most important festivals of the Islamic calendar, Eid al-Adha marks the height of the annual Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

(CNN)One of the most important festivals of the Islamic calendar, Eid al-Adha marks the height of the annual Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

As the timing of Eid al-Adha depends on the sighting of the new moon, Muslims in different countries sometimes celebrate it on different days, though most follow the lead of Saudi Arabia, as the site of the Hajj.

This year, in Saudi Arabia, the United States and in many other countries, the festival begins on Friday and lasts for four days.

It is a time of celebration when families gather for meals, visit relatives and friends, and children are given money and new clothes.

But this year, the coronavirus pandemic means Eid will be quite different for many Muslims.

In New York, for example, where there is a phased reopening, people are required to wear masks in public places and maintain six feet of social distancing from others.

In Louisiana, the state asks people to avoid groups of any size that do not allow for moderate social distancing.

In the Middle East, lockdown measures across in Iraq, Egypt, Iran and Saudi Arabia will also mean some traditions and gatherings are restricted this year, with festivities likely to be smaller and more intimate.

Eid al-Adha is the height of the Hajj pilgrimage, an annual event that has also been affected by coronavirus.

This year, social distancing rules mean only around 1,000 pilgrims can attend from within Saudi Arabia, while international visitors are not permitted.

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