The largest Ramadan prayer congregation in the country began Sunday at Swalath Nagar in Malappuram district of Kerala, where thousands of Muslim men women and children have arrived to take part on Sunday.
The venue of the congregation, about 350 km from the state capital, is spread across 10 km, and 20 large grounds serve as the main venue. The devout will gather on both sides of National Highway 213.
Umer Melmuri, one of the key organisers of the event, feared rain might prove an impediment.
"We expect a crowd of more than six lakh who will congregate through the day, and prayers will conclude early Monday morning. We expect close to two lakh people to be there to take part in the Iftar celebrations Sunday evening," said Melmuri.
This gathering has been an annual event held on the eve of the 27th Ramadan. Only at Makkah and Madeena do more Muslims gather to hear religious discourses led by Muslim clerics, the organisers said.
"This is one event where people from other religions also join to see the smooth conduct of the day-long festivities. Of the 14 grounds that are kept for parking of vehicles, eight are maintained by people from other religions in this district. Closed-circuit TVs are kept at various places in and around the place. The day-long programme is also webcast," Melmuri said.
Numerous devout Muslims arrive here not only from other parts of India but also abroad.
In between the prayer sessions, a pledge against terrorism and alcoholism, besides extending a message of harmony, tolerance, love and affection, will also be taken.
This event is being organised by Ma'din Academy, one of the premier educational and charity centres in south India.
"The food (including traditional Muslim dishes like pathiri and samosas) that would be served at the Iftar comes from various homes in the district, and the curries that will be served are being prepared at the venue," Melmuri said.