Celebrating Eid al-Fitr

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Hands adorned with decorative henna tattoos

What is Eid al-Fitr?

Eid Mubarak! Happy Eid al-Fitr [eed-al-fitter] is the celebration of breaking the fast. The thirty days of Ramadan come to an end with the sighting of the crescent moon after sundown. What follows is a flurry of phone calls, WhatsApp messages, and texts among friends and family, and then the planning of which mosque and prayer time to attend. (There are options from 6 am- 10 am to work around school and work schedules.) When weather permits it is a beautiful reunion of Muslims from across the state praying in Goddard Park or Roger Williams Park Zoo. A union of rich-colored fabrics and smiles chanting our Eid prayer. Unfortunately, this year Eid was a rainy weekday so our community was split up amongst the mosques.

Our family hadn’t set foot in a mosque since pre-covid so this was actually a special moment for us. Normally, Ramadan nights are spent in prayer, with as many nights as we can in the congregation at a mosque. But this year we spent the first half of fasting with Covid and we were in quarantine for most of Ramadan. So our first family outing was Eid morning and we decided to attend the prayer at the brand new mosque in Pawtucket.  Being inside means fewer people,- although it was crowded to capacity. Children with big smiles, dressed in their finest cultural clothing walk between the rows of women.

Celebrating Eid al-Fitr

When Eid falls on a weekday it is hard to get together with friends and extended family because taking days off from school, university and work is not always easy. Some towns and states have the day off for everyone, but most do not. In the past families have gathered at homes with a potluck of traditional sweets and dishes, no one eyeing the clock as conversations and laughter carry on into the night. This year we managed to have all six of us together for the morning 9 am prayer, followed by our first breakfast in thirty days. My kids definitely splurged on their crepes, pancakes, and French toast selections. This of course kept them full until dinner time since everyone’s fasting stomachs are shrunken and unaccustomed to a large daytime meal. In the past years, we have even gone to Mystic or Boston, but homework,  zoom classes, and zoom meetings had everyone on their devices by 1 pm. Still getting over the fatigue from Covid, I snuggled under the covers to watch a movie with my youngest.

Making Memories that Sustain

As minorities, when it comes to our holidays we do our very best to be together. Creating sensory-filled memories, and doing things together rather than focusing on material things. We focus on experiences together; making special cookies, and my daughter decorating our hands with traditional celebratory henna. The decorations are limited to the walls of our homes, the celebrations are limited to what we plan, and the special foods to what we make (although more and more Middle Eastern bakeries are popping up). As my children get older (the three oldest are now 19, 17, and 14) spending any time together is precious. Although we still try to have dinner together most nights, we must often accommodate for meetings, homework, and activities. This time is fleeting and the memories we are able to create together during Ramadan prayers, fasting, Eid community prayers, and outings, are what will sustain them in a society that doesn’t usually even know when it is Ramadan or Eid. These memories are what they will carry with them into their adulthood and hopefully share with their own children.

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