How to celebrate Eid al-Fitr this year despite provincial shutdown, global unrest

Eid al-Fitr is celebrated following the holy month of Ramadan

After a month of fasting daily for the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims in Waterloo region and around the world will celebrate with Eid al-Fitr.

The three-day holiday marks the end of Ramadan and is usually celebrated with special prayers, communal gathering and a feast.

But for the third time during the pandemic, Eid celebrations will fall during lockdowns and stay-at-home orders. Muslims also observe a second Eid called Eid al-Adha, which last took place in the summer of 2020.

Mosque prayers, festivities

Ontario COVID-19 restrictions have limited the number of people attending mosque services to about 10. This means many mosques including the Kitchener Masjid have planned for several prayer events.

The Islamic Centre of Cambridge is hosting three Eid prayers followed by a drive-through event for communtiy members.

“Decorate your car, gather the family, honk your horn and drive through the masjid parking lot for some goodies and toys,” the centre said in an online post.

The Muslim Association of Canada (MAC) is hosting a national virtual event titled “Eidfest 21,” that will include performances from singers and a nasheed group that will recite various melodies, as well as interactive competitions.

“This is really important for us,” said Rania Lawendy, a national director at MAC and of MAC Maple Grove School.

“Unlike Ramadan, which can be adapted to physical distancing, Eid is really typically a day that you’re going to visit multiple friends and family and you have a mass communal prayer and community festival with thousands of people.”

About 100,000 viewers are expected to attend the online event.

Food hampers

The House of Friendship is celebrating Eid with Muslim community members in a unique way.

For the first time, the organization’s Neighbourhood Food Program is providing participants with specialty food hampers and gift cards for Eid.

The organization distributed 647 hampers filled with essentials including oil, flour, sugar, rice and halal chicken or meat.

“The people are actually very surprised …They weren’t expecting it and they were very thankful about it,” said Rudi Okot, the program’s supervisor, in an online post. “It’s the symbolism … The fact that we are thinking about them and taking them into consideration, it really means a lot to them.”

Clare Wagner, community services director for House of Friendship, said the pilot project is a step toward ensuring all community members feel included.

“For many years, House of Friendship has been a key community leader in the Christmas hamper program and what we’re really seeing is that we need to make sure that we’re supporting all the different community members we work with and walk with to celebrate the holidays that are meaningful to them,” she said.

Global events impacting local community 

Eid also comes days after attacks on the Al-Aqsa Mosque, a holy site for Muslims around the world, who are also watching as violence unfolds in East Jerusalem and Gaza.

“I think every Muslim is connected to Palestine through the masjid because that is our third holiest site … So I think every Muslim across the globe is affected,” said Lawendy.

“The thing that helps me and gives me some peace is we are responsible to do what we can … when we see any of our brothers and sisters ailing across the world, whether they’re in Canada or the States or Palestine or Yemen or wherever they are, you know, first and foremost, we should obviously supplicate to God … But second, there are things that we can do here in Canada,” she added.

Lawendy said people can urge politicians to support those in need and speak out about deadly attacks.

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