Eid was celebrated by Indo Caribbean Muslims across the New York metro area on last Friday bringing the month long fasting period (dawn to dusk) of Ramadan to a close.
On Thursday evening large numbers of Muslims (attired in Islamic wear) were seen going to Masjids to break the nightly fast for the final evening of prayers before Eid-Ul-Fitr which is observed with the sighting of the new moon.
On Friday morning, Muslims, dressed in traditional colorful garb and head wear, were seen heading to Masjids to offer salah or prayers and celebrate the end of the month of fasting called Rojah in the Indo-Caribbean diaspora. Males were dressed in white and females in varied colors.
Following prayers on Friday morning, there was much euphoria and fervor and laughter along with feasting on sweets and other snacks including sawine or vermicelli, gulab jamun, mithai, etc.
Charitable contributions or zakats were given to the less fortunate, imams (meijis or mulvis) and to Masjids (mosques). Boxes were placed in front of the gathering for zakats with worshippers giving generously.
Celebrants had on their best, new colourful clothing – traditional kurthas and pajamas, fancy Nehru suits, and shalwar kameez, Punjabi suits for Thursday evening and Friday morning prayers and breakfast. Invitations were extended for lunch and dinner.
New York Indo-Caribbean Islamic culture is very strong in areas where the Caribbean community is settled and the adherents of the faith usually come together to observe festivals like Rojah and Eid. They zealously observe festivals as they do in the Caribbean. All of the Caribbean oriented mosques in Queens were packed with worshippers overflowing onto the sidewalks on the evening before Eid as well as on the cool breezyFriday morning (a school Holiday in New York City). Tents were constructed outside of the masjids to accommodate the large gathering. Celebrants embraced each other and offer “Eid Mubarak” greetings.
Eid is accorded city recognition with cancellation of parking regulations for Thursday and Friday.
Masjids were packed to capacity including the largest ones on Liberty Avenue, 126 Street, Al Abidin, and the Jama Masjid at 102 Street and 95th Ave with police closing off the streets to facilitate early morning worshipping. Mosques, businesses and the exterior of homes as well as offices were decorated with greeneries, cresecent moon, trimmings, colorful lights and huge signs of Eid greetings.
The Eid festivities culminated the end of the pious observance of Ramadan which is the holy month of dawn-to-dusk fasting (called Rojah in the Caribbean) in the Islamic calendar. Fasting during the month of Ramzan is an important pillar in Islam. During this period, pious Muslims abstain from eating and drinking from sunrise until sunset for an entire lunar month. According to Islamic belief, people fast to attain purity and spiritual cleansing and upliftment of the soul. Fasting is also good for the health. And it conditions the mind to overcome adversity.
During the holy month, Muslims flocked to their masjids or jamaats at dusk for prayers and the breaking of the fast with the consumption of dates (kajoor). Every night, one could hear the azan (call to prayers) over the microphone. Dressed in traditional Islamic garb, people attended Masjids to break the fast around 8 PM.
The Caribbean Muslim community has developed a close bond like their counterparts in Guyana and Trinidad. It s a very tight-knit community and they observe all Islamic traditions especially during Ramadan or Ramzan (Rojah) at their masjid or community centers. In NY, each ethnic community or nationality from around the globe has its own masjid. There are several Indo-Guyanese (Trini) mosques in NY. Indo-Caribbeans prefer to worship at their own mosque separate from those of other nationalities. The community has been steadily growing in Richmond Hill leading to expansion and or establishment of new masjids. There are more Guyanese masjids than those of ethnic Banglas or Pakistanis or other groups. The communities have established these religious centers to propagate their faith.
Eid is an annual rite for the Muslim community to contract theme parks and catering halls for a day of fun and recreation for children. Wealthy businesses underwrite the expenses. Many host lunch and dinners inviting friends, neighbors and relatives. During the day, people feasted on a variety of cuisine (gulab jamun, vermicelli, sirni and other mithai). It is a tradition to distribute sawine to neighbors, friends and relatives and Muslims
On the daily morning TV program with Pradeep Kumar, Qawalis, qaseedas, and Islamic songs were aired daily during Rojah and on Eid. The West Indian radio Station, WICR, with Robert Mohammed, also broadcasted Bollywood Islamic religious songs.
Belated Eid Mubharak Ho!