All welcome to Eid Day
WHEN Naima Ali saw Auckland for the first time she thought she had arrived in Disneyland.
It was the year 2000 and the city was lit up with fireworks celebrating the new millennium when Ali, then aged 9, and her family flew in from war-torn Somalia.
‘‘Our parents turned to us and said: ‘This is where we’re going to live.’ We were so excited, we thought it was Disneyland. It was a meaningful memory.’’
Fast forward 14 years and Ali is settled in Mt Roskill with her mum, brothers and sisters. She is a community youth leader at a not-forprofit organisation called Refugee Youth Action Network, which supports and empowers youth aged 12 to 24 through education and employment. And like many migrants, she is willing to lend a hand when needed.
Every year the 23-year-old volunteers at Auckland Eid Day at Eden Park.
This year up to 10,000 Muslims are expected to attend the event to celebrate Eid al-Fitr which marks the end of the 30-day fast through the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
The event will be held on July 28 or 29, depending on the moon, and starts with traditional prayer followed by games, food stalls, educational displays and a col- lection of stage shows with cultural performances.
Ali says she looks forward to Ramadan, in which Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset.
The family decorates the house and anticipates the sighting of the moon which marks the start of the holy month. In the evenings, the family sits down to a modest meal of dates, samosas and fruit, and prayers are recited five times a day.
‘‘There’s teaching in fasting, such as patience, remembering those who are oppressed or have little,’’ Ali says.
‘‘Everybody feels uplifted. Everybody is kind. Everybody is so thankful for the blessings that they have.’’
Co-ordinated by the AlManar Trust, the family event aims to bring together the Muslim community to enjoy Eid, observed by Muslims worldwide.
‘‘For Muslims, Eid is considered one of the most exciting days on the Islamic calendar, no matter where you are around the world,’’ Auckland Eid Day project manager Ouadhah Ragued says.
‘‘We wanted to give our community an Eid to look forward to and remember right here in Auckland.’’
Auckland Eid Day, Eden Park, July 28 or 29, 8am4pm.
Uplifting month: Naima Ali is a regular volunteer at Auckland Eid Day which marks the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.