Muslims offer Eid al-Adha prayers outside al-Seddik mosque in Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018.(AP)
Egyptian Muslims celebrated the first day of the annual four-day Eid Al-Adha holiday on Tuesday with prayers and animal sacrifices.
Muslims across the country crowded mosques and prayer grounds in the early morning to recite prayers for the religious holiday, which runs from 21 August to 24 August this year, after which the sacrifice of goats and cows took place.
To celebrate the day, families bought ice-cream and balloons from roadside vendors.
Muslims try to catch balloons distributed for free after Eid al-Adha prayers outside al-Seddik mosque in Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018. (AP)
Security was tight Tuesday morning, with authorities on guard around religious sites, public parks and transport services.
Police said earlier this week that undercover female police officers, as well as police officers from the anti-sexual-harassment department, will be active during the holiday period.
Eid Al-Adha is one of the two most important religious holidays of the Islamic calendar, along with Eid El-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan.
The Eid Al-Adha holiday coincides with the annual hajj pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia and marks the Prophet Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his own son as an act of obedience to God.
On Tuesday morning, two million pilgrims from all over the world performed hajj rituals in Mecca.
Known as the Feast of Sacrifice, this celebration is traditionally marked by the slaughter of animals, such as sheep, cows and goats. The meat is then shared between family members and the poor.
Many others prefer to donate money or buy meat to give to charities and the needy as an alternative to slaughtering, particularly given the high prices of sheep and cattle.
This year, the holiday also coincides with the major Coptic Christian festival of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, which falls on 22 August.
Egypt is a majority Muslim country in which the Christian community makes up approximately 10 to 15 percent of the country's population of 104.3 million.