For the first time in recent memories, Muslim devotees in Dhaka observed the holy Shab-e-Barat, the night of fortune and forgiveness, on Thursday without gathering in mosques and shrines due to the restrictions imposed for coronavirus outbreak.
Every year the mosques and streets of the city are full of devotees of different ages on this holy night. The Islamic Foundation Bangladesh and various religious and socio-cultural organisations hold elaborate programmes, including religious sermons, Quran recitation, and special prayers.
But, this time all the mosques in Dhaka were empty as the authorities urged people not to gather in the mosques to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
According to Muslim belief, Allah decides the fate of all creatures for the coming year on this night based on their past deeds.
All the gates of Baitul Mukarram, the national mosque of the country, were locked on Thursday. The mosque offered only the Isha prayers, one of the five regular prayers, on Thursday night with five devotees as the government ordered not to perform prayers together in a mosque with more than five people at a time.
"Considering the current situation, we cancelled the special prayers of the night. Instead, we urged devotees to offer special prayers at home," said Moulana Mufti Mizanur Rahman, Senior Pesh Imam of Baitul Mukarram.
"We all should offer more and more prayers to Allah to overcome this situation. Only He can save us from this danger," said Mufti Mizanur Rahman.
He urged Muslims to recite the Holy Quran, hold Zikr and perform other religious rituals seeking divine blessings for the wellbeing of the mankind.
Earlier on Saturday, the Islamic Foundation urged people to offer prayers at home during Shab-e-Barat.
"Pray at home on Shab-e-Barat for the people's safety during this crisis of pandemic," said a press release of the Islamic Foundation.
It also urged people not to visit graveyards and shrines on this occasion to contain the spread of coronavirus.
Visiting graveyards of relatives and Muslim saints and offering prayers to the Almighty is a part of the ritual of Shab-e-Barat.
But this time Muslims were not allowed to visit the city's Azimpur graveyard.
Members of the law enforcement agencies locked the Azimpur graveyard road and barred people who intended to visit their relatives' graves.
"Thousands of people used to visit the graveyard in previous years, but this year the graveyard was closed. Nobody visited the yard today [Thursday]," said Md Faruq, a security guard at the Azimpur graveyard.
Poor people and beggars generally gather around mosques and on shrines' premises on this night but they got no help this time as people did not go outside their home.
Ayesha Khatun, a 60-year-old beggar from the capital's Manda area, came to the Baitul Mukarram Mosque with hope for help from devotees but she did not get any.
"Last year I got Tk3,000 on this night. But today I have not got even Tk100," depressed Ayesha said.
The hawkers of the area also got left out as the city remained calm and quiet from the fear of novel coronavirus outbreak.