And if you want some, come visit the jubilant Eid festival celebrated by Muslims all over the world, where they warmly embrace people of all creeds, casts and cultures. In Calgary, Eid-ul-Fiter was commemorated by about thirty thousand local Muslims on the 17th of July 2015. If you missed it, do not despair, there is Eid-ul-Azha coming in September.
For Muslims, Eid is an occasion of reflection on one’s past year. They recall their worldly and spiritual deeds and try and refine themselves for future. This cycle continues till one leaves this world and meets his Lord with pride on his performance.
In the Islamic calendar, Eid-ul-Fiter is celebrated right after Ramadan, which is the holy month of fasting. This month offers a very special training for every Muslim. All adults fast from dawn to dusk not eating or drinking anything and spending most of their time in the remembrance of God and seeking His forgiveness. In the late hours of night, Taravi prayer is performed, which mostly comprises of recitation of Quran, the holy book of Muslims. The heightened feeling of thirst and hunger during the fasting time makes one humble and helps him or her associate with the less privileged and the needy. It also sets a renewed pace for the human body to better respond to daily needs like thinking, doing physical work and fighting diseases. Giving charity in large amounts is another act that characterizes the month of Ramadan. After sighting of the moon, which marks the beginning of a month in Islamic calendar, Eid-ul-Fiter is celebrated by all Muslims. The main occasion on the Eid day is the religious congregation held in the early hours of the morning. It is a moment of happiness where one puts behind his or her differences, grievances and complaints, and embraces friends and family members signifying the importance of human relationship. The Eid festival usually continues for three days. Families arrange get-togethers where delicious food is served. Gifts are exchanged. Children specially look forward to receiving Eidee, which is a cash bounty from their seniors.
In Calgary, Eid congregations are held in large community mosques. The biggest Eid congregation is held in public spaces in Stampede given the fact that more than twenty thousand people attend this. Right after the congregational prayers, there are social and cultural activities like networking, discussions on how to positively engage with other local communities, charity and donation collection for various causes, food stalls, dress and gift sales, and games for children. These provide a great means for friends and families to spend good time together strengthening their bonds and enlivening the true human spirit. Places like Akram Jumma mosque and Genesis Centre hold special evening events for everyone to participate and introduce various ethnic Islamic cultures to the local Calgarians.
Apart from Eid-ul-Fiter, Muslims also celebrate Eid-ul-Azha, which normally happens after two months. The message from this Eid is that one should always be willing to sacrifice his most valued possession for the love of God. If one is not able to do this, then it would mean that there are things that are dearer to one than God. Eid-ul-Azha is remembering the sacrifice Abraham made while presenting his son Ismail to God. Muslims follow this symbolically by presenting permissible cattle to God and sacrificing them in His name. The other festivities are more or less like Eid-ul-Fiter, where people gather for the early morning congregation, family get-togethers, BBQ parties and the like.
Both Eid-ul-Fiter and Eid-ul-Azha are significant for and noticeable in Calgary. This is more so given the number of the people attending the religious congregations than the size of the Muslim population in the city. These are significant events in that Muslims have found Calgary to be a home where they are respected. Like embracing a friend or a family member, Calgary has welcomed immigrants from all over the world, which is no different from the true spirit of Eid. It is believed that this will continue to be the case and the city of Calgary will keep enriching its diverse society with arms extended to the world.