Millions of Muslims flocked to the banks of the Turag river in Bangladesh to take part in the final day of the annual Bishwa Ijtema festival. Bishwa Ijtema means ‘world congregation’ and is focused on interpreting the true meaning of the Qur’an. It is also well known for being a non-political and peaceful celebration. Shia Muslims from 150 countries take part in the event, in Dhaka, and around two million participated this year.
There was also a landmark for the festival as – due to the large number of visitors – Bangladeshi participants were asked to visit across four phases for the first time. Residents from 33 districts attended the first two phases this year while residents of the remaining 32 districts will attend next year. Due to fears over extremism it is believed 5,000 police officers, 60 CCTV cameras and many undercover officers were deployed to ensure that the celebration remained unblemished by violence.
During the festival attendees camped for three days across a plot of only 160 acres while they prayed and received blessings from Allah.
The opening to Bishwa Ijtema is known as ‘Ambayan’ or general sermon and proceedings end on the third day with ‘Akheri Munajat’ which means final prayer. In 2010 the festival was attended by around five million people which made it the second largest Muslim gathering on the planet. Read more: