Fariha Naqvi-Mohamed: Celebrating Eid, with traditions old and new

We’ll spend part of our day with loved ones and the rest, celebrating with the kids and enjoying some favorite foods.

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A month of fasting from before dawn until sunset each day for the Muslim community is coming to close this weekend. It’s time for the three-day holiday of Eid-ul-Fitr, when we eat our favorite foods, dress up in fine new clothes (if we can afford them), visit friends and family and share goodies with loved ones and neighbours.

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Over the past couple of years, the pandemic has made it challenging for all of us to celebrate our holidays, and for Muslims, Eid has been no exception.

Last year, my family’s plans for Eid-ul-Fitr were thwarted when we received an email informing us that a student in my child’s class had tested positive for COVID. It made for the most unique and unconventional Eid that half of my family had ever experienced. They spent it eating sushi and watching movies.

This year, pandemic restrictions have eased, many people have received their booster shots and things are looking up.

Because of concerns for my own health and that of loved ones, I’ve been avoiding gatherings. Recently, during Ramadan, I went into a mosque for the first time since the pandemic’s start. It was both emotional and deeply spiritual. I was reminded of how much we took for granted for so many years: the ability to freely go to our place of worship, a place of spirituality. Seeing other congregants, sharing in that community spirit and catching up with old friends was priceless. The melodious sound of the Imam reciting the Quran filled my heart with hope and tranquillity.

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I was reminded again about the importance of community when I made a brief visit to a Ramadan exhibition last weekend at a hotel in Dorval, organized by West Island entrepreneur Shagufta Janjua. The turnout was impressive, with members of the Muslim community from every part of the Montreal area in attendance. Words cannot describe how much this kind of feel-good, family-friendly event was needed. It was like a fountain of water for a community that was patched. Vendors sold traditional clothing, henna, Muslim decor, beard oils, jewelry, hijabs, customized clothing and desserts, to help prepare for the celebration of Eid. The sounds of soulful nasheeds (think a cappella hymn) filled the air. These events would typically be attended fairly well pre-pandemic, but the turnout this time was unlike anything I had seen before.

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As with many other events and celebrations, people are still figuring out what they are most comfortable with. Some, like my family, stick to close friends and family, while others hold large gatherings. Despite my love of socializing, I’m choosing to err on the side of caution. We’ll spend part of our day with loved ones and the rest, celebrating with the kids. There is a pretty good likelihood ice cream will be involved.

When my children were growing up, their teachers would ask them what kind of foods they would eat on Eid day, and seemed to assume it would be couscous and hummus, which are not in our family traditions. They’d be surprised then when my kids would share that we’d eat not only long-standing traditional foods like sheer korma (toasted vermicelli in sweetened milk), but also enjoy more recent family traditions, like strawberry or blueberry waffles served with fried eggs topped with cheese. My Mom must have served that during my childhood, and it became a tradition that I happily pass on to my own children. We’ll also indulge in our other favorites throughout the day, like samosas, tandoori chicken, kabobs and nachos with salsa.

Like many other celebrations, Eid is what you make of it, with traditions playing a role, be they old or new.

Eid Mubarak (Happy Eid) from my family and me!

Fariha Naqvi-Mohamed is the founder and editor in chief of CanadianMomEh.coma lifestyle blog.



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