Close to 10,000 Muslims in Winnipeg are celebrating Eid al-Fitr in a way they haven’t for two years — in person, together as a community.
Eid al-Fitr, which means “Festival of the Breaking of the Fast,” marks the end of Ramadan — a holy time in the ninth month of the Islamic calendar when many Muslims fast, or go without food and drinks, during daylight hours.
On Monday, Muslims gathered at the convention centre in downtown Winnipeg for prayers to mark the start of Eid.
“This morning means celebrating the accomplishment that we did as a community — fasting 30 days — and seeing everyone, finally,” said attendee Sena Elbakri. “It just means commitment, completion, togetherness.”
During the two-year hiatus from major Ramadan and Eid-related events, Elbakri said her family did many activities together, which was nice, but it is wonderful to return to the greater community.
“We didn’t see everyone in their nice colourful clothes … and all the friends you don’t usually see. We really, really missed that community.”
Eid is filled with gifts and sweets, visits and shared meals, though it is different for each family, Elbakri said.
“It’s basically like what you guys do for Christmas, but we do it for Eid.”
In many Muslim countries, it is a national holiday.
“Today is a blessed day for us and very joyful for us. It’s a communal thing, [that’s] the one thing that it really means to me … just coming together and having to share this beautiful day with many wonderful people around the world,” said Osman Khadija.
A big part of Islam is to celebrate, pray and give charity in congregation with others, said Tasneem Vali, vice-chair at the Manitoba Islamic Association.
Having to meet through Zoom calls over the past two years was difficult.
“This is amazing for the community to come together again,” she said. “Eid is basically a celebration with family, friends, community, so this is what it means. This is so important for us.
“You can see people hugging each other, finally.”
The breaking of the fast was set to happen after the prayer ceremony, with gatherings at restaurants or private homes to share food.
Part of the purpose of the ceremony at the convention centre is to show the next generation how to thank God for the privileges they have and how to continue the traditions as they grow up, Vali said.
The message was not lost on Khubaid Mohammad Amla, 11.
“I like praying and I want to be here to respect my religion,” he said.
Of course, spoiling the kids a little is part of the fun, Vali said.
“We have goodie bags that we’re going to hand out to the kids. We did drive-thru goodie bags [the past two years], but that’s not as fun as seeing their face when they get something,” she said. “I’m at the goodie bag table — my favourite.”
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