Canadian Muslims celebrate Eid with feasts, family gatherings

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SHAFAQNA - Families and friends dressed in their finest embraced and children ran around clutching chocolate bars as they gathered at the Baitun Nur Mosque in northeast Calgary on Saturday to mark Eid ul-Fitr, the end of Ramadan.

As the thousands of local Muslims at the mosque got ready to rush home to distribute gifts for young ones and to rush home for large family feasts, most of them had a common goal in mind: to spend time with loved ones and give back to the community.

“The main focus of Ramadan is to give,” said Asma Chaudhry, who was busy with food drives and other charity work leading up to Eid celebrations. “It’s about self discipline as well, but it’s also about understanding there are those who go without and it makes you want to give more.”

The day started with prayers, including a special one dedicated to Canada, and a sermon delivered by the mosque’s imam. Afterwards, families headed home to welcome loved ones over for a party, or out of town to spend the day in the mountains.

It was a particularly special Eid for newlywed Sumaya Rafiq.

“This year it’s different for me. I’m married and I’m spending Eid with my in-laws,” Rafiq said, adding her in-laws drove in from Saskatoon and their party of four planned to go to Bragg Creek for a barbecue and family photos.

To Basma Tariq, Eid has been a significant celebration since she was a child, and the morning prayers are “the most important part of the day.”

Tariq said she was preparing a big brunch for a party of about 35 family members, including both traditional southeast Asian dishes as well as typical Western fare such as omelettes.

“Ever since I was a kid, Eid has been about being with family,” she said.

Phazilah Rehman, 16, and her brother Tai Rehman, 13, came to Calgary from the UK and took in the prayers at the mosque with their uncle, aunt, and cousins. Tai admitted it was nice to get “Eidi” or the cash and gifts that elders bestow on children as part of the celebrations.

Farooq Ahmad and his three sons Shayan Farooq, 16, Rayyan Farooq, 14, and Ayan Farooq, 17 were also in good spirits Saturday.

“It’s like Christmas, one of the happiest days after Ramadan,” Ahmad said.

The family had plans to drive out to Kananaskis for a barbecue and spend the whole day together. The teens were happy to be done fasting, adding: “Finally, you can eat.”

Sultan Mahmood, spokesman with the mosque, said this is the time of year where everyone celebrates, puts their differences aside, and “forgives and forgets.”

He added Muslims are encouraged to give of themselves not just through the month of Ramadan but throughout the entire year.

“This exercise doesn’t end here. This exercise should continue for the whole year.”

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