A joyous day for Pittsburgh's Muslims as Eid-al-Fitr begins

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Muslims throughout the Pittsburgh area on Thursday welcomed Eid-al-Fitr, one of the most joyous days in the Islamic calendar.

Local Muslims joined more than 1 billion worldwide celebrating the feast that ends Ramadan, the holy Islamic month that calls on Muslims to fast from sunrise to sunset and develop their relationship to God.

The Islamic Center of Pittsburgh in Oakland drew over 300 Muslims of a range of nationalities to its Eid celebration Thursday morning. After Eid prayers, attendees had the opportunity to socialize, spend time with friends and family and reflect on the goals that they had set for themselves during Ramadan.

"The day was pretty packed, and it was a wonderful experience," said Tara Bailey, 30, from Pittsburgh. "We played games with the kids, we gave out Eid gifts, we put together bags of toys with candy.

"A lot of introspection is happening. We talk about Ramadan and how it went this year. Did we learn from it? Did we grow from it?"

At the Muslim Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh in Monroeville, women in long colorful tunics watched children playing in a bounce house as men greeted each other with "Eid Mubarak," an Eid greeting. MCCGP's celebrations also featured stalls with foods from around the world.

Eid is traditionally a day to visit friends and family. It's also an occasion to wear new clothes, while the women apply henna designs on hands.

Usman Bawany, 28, wore a traditional sherwani robe, which men wear for their weddings in South Asian countries. Celebrating his second Eid in Pittsburgh, he was sad that Ramadan had finished and he could no longer enjoy the blessings of the holy month when a person who is fasting is closer to God.

In predominantly Muslim countries, businesses shut down on Eid and there is a public holiday, similar to Christmas in the Western countries. Andleeb Ara, a Pakistani scientist from Monroeville who had to go back to work after offering prayers, finds Eid to be very different from the way it's celebrated in Pakistan.

"It's a holiday in Pakistan, and everybody is enjoying the festival together. We cook food, meet with family and friends and there are so many other traditional things I'm missing," she said.

The MCCGP is predominantly a Pakistani mosque. Khalid Ajmal, 47, dressed in Shalwar Kameez, was very happy to wear his national dress.

"This is traditional dress to represent my culture and community in Pittsburgh," he said.

Mahad Ali Zaidi, 15, had been celebrating Eid in Pakistan all his life and was missing his friends and cousins. He was also sad that he did not get "Eidi", a term used for giving money to children in Muslim communities as part of Eid celebrations.

Najma Sherwani, 65, was in Pittsburgh from Phoenix to celebrate Eid with her husband's family.

"It is so lonely there for us so we decided to get together with our family in Pittsburgh," she said. She had the plans to give out Eidi to a couple of kids to keep the culture in place.


Waqas Banoori: wbanoori@post-gazette.com. 412-694-4978. Marina Bolotnikova contributed.


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