Eid Celebrations and Blissful Rejoicings in Sacramento
By Ras H. Siddiqui
Eid-ul-Fitr marking the end of Ramadan was celebrated with a great deal of fervor in Sacramento, California, on July 6 th. But the festivities here actually began on July 4 th as we celebrated both our Independence Day and a Chand Raat (night of the sighting of the new moon) the same night.
The festival of the moon sighting turned out to be a day too early as the new moon was not sighted anywhere in North America on the 4 th of July, but instead many families got the opportunity to catch the fireworks displays right after these festivities, all over this metropolitan area. We will come back to this topic here again later.
There was only one Eid Day this time, on Wednesday, July 6 th when many Sacramento area mosques held large prayer gatherings. This writer was able to join the second shift of prayers at the Downtown Muslim Mosque Association on V Street which is considered to be the oldest mosque in the Western United States, founded by South Asian Muslims in 1947. It is important to note that the Muslim component of the Punjabi community that came to settle in California in the early 1900’s and their first generation had a pivotal role to play in the founding of this mosque. And that flavor continues as this venue attracts Pakistanis, Indians, and people originating from Fiji to this facility every time, especially on Eid Day when it almost mirrors Eid gatherings in Lahore, Delhi or Karachi (on a much smaller scale).
This congregation at the Downtown Muslim Mosque is led by Imam Mumtaz Qasmi who hails from India. In his Khutbah or sermon at this occasion (delivered in Arabic, Urdu and English) Imam Qasmi prayed for peace in the world and for the lessening of suffering in all areas of conflict. He instructed Muslims in the United States to serve and maintain a positive profile in their local communities. He also prayed for the continuance of family values and adherence to them as contained in Islamic teachings.
Outside in the Mosque courtyard there was a stand doing brisk business selling pizzas and chalebis, a combination which has become so successful that it is now an almost permanent feature here. Amongst the crowd gathered here women and kids attired in their colorful best filled the ladies section and spilled out into the street. Men were seen giving each other the triple Eid hug and asking about the welfare of each other’s families since Eid is also a huge social occasion.
Now getting back to the Chand Raat held at The Palace Ballroom. The henna artists were in huge demand as many young ladies lined up to get the delicately patterned temporary tattoo on their arms and hands. There was also a great deal of interest in glass/metal bangles or chooris along with the latest fashions from Pakistan and India. And if one was not careful, a family budget could easily be heavily impacted here. Thanks are in order to all the sponsors and The Palace Ballroom for providing free iftari (snacks to break the fast with) to all present. It is precisely such gathering that motivate our next generation to continue their cultural traditions.
And one last item which may be of interest to many people in the Sacramento area. The California State Fair is going on at the Cal Expo here. It attracts thousands of people from all over the state and many counties have their displays promoting their products here. But there is a lot more than food, art and music present. ICNA’s WhyIslam project has an informational booth which this writer was able to visit on July 9 th. A group of Muslim volunteers is manning this booth for 19 days during this State Fair. Please check it out and tell your friends or whoever may be interested in the Islamic religion. These guys are doing some really great work!