Indonesians pray at mosque but bring their own rugs

BANDA ACEH, INDONESIA (AP) – Hundreds of people join the Ramadhan evening prayers at Baiturrahman Grand Mosque in the capital of Indonesia’s far western Aceh province.

They wash their hands to prevent the spread of the coronavirus before they perform ablutions and begin their prayers. They come with masks, following a government appeal, but don’t always wear them. Some worshipers bring their own prayer rugs after the carpets at the mosque were rolled up in March.

One congregant, Umar, decided to join a mass prayer at the mosque and wore a mask to make sure he did the right thing as suggested by the government. “I feel incomplete if I don’t do the prayer at the mosque,” Umar said.

The scene stands in sharp contrast to past Ramadhans. The mosque in Banda Aceh can accommodate thousands, and people flooded outside the mosque building in past years. This year, not more than 400 worshipers have participated at the evening prayer. They were not packed together, but were not social distancing either.

Men perform an evening prayer at the Islamic Centre Mosque in Lhokseumawe, Aceh province, Indonesia. PHOTO: AP