NY Indo-Caribbean Muslims Celebrated Eid

NY Indo-Caribbean Muslims Celebrated Eid

Photo : Indo-Caribbean Muslims celebrated Eid in New York

Indo-Caribbean Muslims joined others across the greater New York metro area last Sunday morning, June 25, to celebrate the Islamic festival of Eid-ul-Fitr. The festival was celebrated with fervour and zeal at every mosque and in every Islamic community. Muslims tend to cluster in New York forming their own enclaves and establishing a masjid. Eid marks the end of the dawn to dusk fasting during the holy month of Ramadan (called Ramzan by Indo-Caribbeans) which began on May 26 evening and ended on June 24 evening.

Muslims at the several Guyanese or Trini mosques in Queens observed the festival in traditional Guyanese or Indo Caribbean style- with prayers, feasts, distribution of vamazelly (vermicelli or sawine), cajoor, sirni or butter made maleda-and charitable contributions to the less fortunate.

The Indo-Caribbean Muslim diaspora in New York is a very tight-knit community that observe all Islamic traditions especially during Ramadan. In NY, every national community has its own masjid and Muslims tend to patronize the mosque of nationals of their former country. The greater Richmond Hill area alone has half a dozen masjids in addition to several more in other parts of Queens. There are also masjids established by Bengali, Moroccan, Yemeni, Iranian, and other Arabs in the heart of the Indo-Guyanese Islamic community.

Muslim owned businesses, homes, schools and masjids were beautifully decorated with greeneries, cresecent moon, trimmings, colorful lights and huge signs of Eid greetings.

Muslims gathered at mosques early on Sunday morning all decked up in traditional garb for prayer. They were led in prayers by a head imam or mullah assisted by other meijis. Masjids were overflowing with worshippers. Streets were closed off to accommodate the congregation. Tents were set up just outside of each masjid. Celebrants put on their best and most colourful clothing – traditional kurthas, kamiz, lahengas, and Nehru suits.

Eid is accorded official city recognition that comes within cancellation of parking regulations for two days (Sunday and Monday) and a public school holiday.

The Eid festivities culminated the end of the pious observance of Ramadan in the Islamic calendar. Ramzan is an important pillar in Islam. During this period, pious Muslims abstain from eating and drinking between sunrise and sunset for an entire lunar month; even many Muslim students fasted during the month.

Guyanese were observed making the nightly trek to the mosque for prayers and the breaking of the fast in the evening at sundown. Breaking of the fast took place around 8:30 to 9 PM during these long summer days. One could have heard the azan (announcement for prayers) over the microphone during the day and every evening from half a mile away alerting pious Muslims that it was the time for the breaking of the fast. In Richmond Hill, people attired in colourful Islamic garb crowded the masjids in congregations for night prayers that normally ended around 9 p.m.

According to Islamic belief, people fasted for blessings and celebrated their achievement with the marking of Eid that commemorated the end of the fasting period bringing Muslims together. It is an annual rite for the Muslim community to contract theme parks for a day of fun recreation for children. Many Muslims hosted banquets inviting friends, neighbours and relatives especially that Monday is a holiday. Many businesses were also closed early on Saturday in preparation for the two days of holiday. During Sunday, Muslims feasted on a variety of cuisine (gulab jamun, vermicelli, sirni, jalebi, maleda, cajoor, mohanbhog, and other mithai). As in Guyana, Surinam and Trinidad, where it is a tradition, celebrants distributed sawine and sirni (maleda) to neighbours, friends and relatives.