My warm wishes and greetings go out today to all our followers of Islam. Eidul Aldha Hajj is one of the most important events in the Islamic calendar. It is the time of the year when millions of the World's Muslims congregate at Holy Mecca to pray in unison.
Successive Sri Lankan Governments have been facilitating the Hajj pilgrimages of our Muslim brethren. The continuous State patronage afforded over the years is a clear indication of our peaceful coexistence and the religious freedoms we enjoy in this country.
Hajj in Sri Lanka this year is being observed just three weeks after the worst natural disaster in our living memory. The world's Muslims now gathered in Holy Mecca are praying fervently for our country. I am confident their prayers will be answered and help us rebuild the lives of our people who were affected.
A vast number of those who lost their lives in the recent tragedy were Muslims. According to Islamic tradition widowed ladies observe the Iddha and they remain indoors during this customary period of mourning. The Government has directed the District Secretaries to assign lady officers to visit all widowed Muslim women folk in all affected areas and facilitate the interim relief payments and inquire after their needs at this time of grief.
Let me again extend my warm and sincere greetings to all the followers of Islam in Sri Lanka on this special day.
Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga
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