After two years of celebrations muted by the pandemic, entertainment centres and restaurants in Dhaka are preparing for a return to normal this Eid.
Thursday, Apr 28 was the last working day before the Eid holidays and the week of Eid has only two workdays on May 4 and 5. May 6 is a Friday. Preparations are in full swing to make the holidays more entertaining. The day of Eid-ul-Fitr is subject to the sighting of the moon, but a large segment of Dhaka residents are travelling to their village homes during the biggest Muslim festival of the year. Many of those remaining in Dhaka will visit entertainment centres and restaurants with their family and friends during the Eid holidays. Fewer people will also ease the horrific congestion that plagues the city, adding to the merriment. The last few Eid holidays have been spent amid lockdown restrictions. Entertainment centres were shut and restaurants were under strict restrictions. ENTERTAINMENT CENTRES PREPARE Many people visit the Bangladesh National Zoo in Mirpur on national holidays, including Eid. As the pandemic ebbs, zoo officials are expecting a large crowd of visitors, said Acting Director Mohammad Mojibur Rahman. “We have some routine preparations to finish and we’re focused on them as we anticipate a big crowd. We’ll ensure the crowd does not cause any harm to the zoo animals. That’s why we’re keeping an eye on supplying animal feed and supplements,” he said. The cleanliness of the zoo and the security of the visitors are also being monitored, he said. The authorities have taken measures to remove hawkers from the zoo premises and to supply safe drinking water to the visitors. Ramna Park, another attraction for those who prefer open spaces in the capital, will not see any change during Eid, said Shamsul Islam, deputy assistant engineer of the Public Works Circle. “The park will remain open from 6 am to 11 am and from 3 pm to 8 pm, according to its regular schedule. It is being cleaned regularly and will be well maintained during the Eid holidays. Those who want to take in some fresh air can visit between these times.” Eid holidays are often opportunities for people to travel to the outskirts of Dhaka with their families and visit nearby theme parks. “We have taken the utmost preparation to offer all services to our visitors,” said Manzur Ahmed, general manager of the Fantasy Kingdom theme park in Ashulia. But authorities are still aware of the risks of coronavirus infection and will ensure that health protocols are observed, he said. Touhidul Islam, marketing officer of Toggi Fun World at Bashundhara Shopping Complex, said this will be their first Eid since its rebranding from Toggi World in March last year. "We have gone through a revamp. We can now accommodate 10,000 people here at a time. I hope the place will be overflowing with people on Eid." RESTAURANTS PREPARE FOR AN EID RUSH During Eid, many people meet up with their friends at eateries across the capital. While most restaurants are closed during the Eid holidays, a large portion of fast food shops and cafes will be open. Sajjad Ibn Saju, the manager of Prezzie, a coffee shop in Dhanmondi, said preparations are in full swing to cater to customers during Eid. "After two years, we are hoping for a big turnout this Eid. We have not been able to offer many of our services in the last two Eids. Now, we hope to provide our full range of services.” Prezzie was one of the few restaurants to continue its operations when the pandemic broke out in 2020. But SM Rajan, owner of Burger and Steak on Dhanmondi's Satmasjid Road, is not expecting the restaurant to overflow with diners during the holidays. As there are so many restaurants in the area, he believes each one now has its own regulars. "In the last two years, no restaurant has been able to do a lot of business on Eid. This time, I hope there will be bigger crowds. But now there are many restaurants. Many new ones have also cropped up after the pandemic started. "We need to reconsider the size of the crowds at restaurants. The number of customers hasn't really increased much and each restaurant has its share of patrons. However, we have made some additional preparations for Eid.” Barekur Rahman, manager of Time Out in Banani, says that they will begin preparations for Eid two days before the start of the holidays so that all the food on their menu can be served. "We will stock all the necessary goods and items two or three days in advance so that we can offer our full menu during Eid," he said. "And since coronavirus cases have dropped, I hope we will get a bigger turnout this Eid."