‘Does this feel like Eid to you?’: No festival cheer for Afghans

In the years past, Kochei Leilami in Herat city in Afghanistan’s west, would be full of shoppers on the days in the run up to an Eid holiday.

The road leading back to the historic Masjed Jame would be full of people, multicoloured rickshaws and vehicles making their way to buy fabric, scarves, gold, shoes, plastic trinkets for children and everything else that used to be on display in the city’s most famous bazaar.

But this year, Eid al-Adha falls at a particularly precarious time for the city and the country as the foreign forces withdraw after 20 years. Peace talks between the government and Taliban have yet to yield meaningful results, a third wave of the coronavirus pandemic has hospitals struggling to keep up with an increasing patient load, and districts across the country continue to trade hands between the government and Taliban forces at an alarming rate.

Residents in Herat say it is difficult to get into the spirit of feasting and charity the holiday is known for.

Aminullah sells plastic trinkets and jewellery from a cart only a few metres from the historic mosque. He says he has never seen the bazaar so empty days before Eid in the six years he has been running the cart.

“Other years, even on a Friday, there would be so many people on this street they’d have to close it off to cars,” he told Al Jazeera.

But this year, shopkeepers can be seen playing cards outside their largely empty stores.

Residents in Herat say it is difficult to get into the spirit of feasting and charity the holiday is known for.

Aminullah sells plastic trinkets and jewellery from a cart only a few metres from the historic mosque. He says he has never seen the bazaar so empty days before Eid in the six years he has been running the cart.

But this year, shopkeepers can be seen playing cards outside their largely empty stores.

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