Thousands from the Islamic community in Saskatoon gathered at Prairieland Park Wednesday morning to celebrate Eid al-Adha.
The celebration included prayers and speeches from local dignitaries, including Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark and Saskatchewan Lt.-Gov. Tom Malloy. Representatives from Saskatoon Police Service, the fire department, Saskatoon Tribal Council as well as the provincial and federal governments were also in attendance.
‘It’s very gratifying to get this opportunity,” Shabir Mia, said. Mia is a member of the media committee with the Islamic Association of Saskatchewan (IAS).
Eid al-Adha is the second of two major celebrations in the Muslim faith. It celebrates the holy pilgrimage known as Hajj, which is taking place this week in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The pilgrimage is a mandatory religious duty for those in the Muslim faith that must be carried out once in their lives. It’s considered one of the largest annual gatherings in the world. This year, over one million people are expected to attend.
According to IAS, the Islamic community celebrates unity, courage and peace. It’s expected that Muslims in Saskatoon from 60 different countries were in attendance at the morning prayer ceremony.
For Mia, the growth of the community has been staggering. He hopes by publicizing their celebrations, it helps educate the community and shows how a Muslim lives in Canada.
“To be able to demonstrate to the rest of the community exactly what our community is about, the fact that it’s made up of people from all over the world,” Mia said. “There’s not just one homogeneous group that’s a Muslim, but there’s people from every shape, every colour, every creed, every language that come together.”
The ceremony began with the thousands in attendance lining into rows, filling two entire halls at Prairieland Park, followed by speeches from dignitaries, and prayer from Imam Ilyas Sidyot.
Eid al-Adha runs until Saturday, when a street festival is planned at a local mosque to mark the end of the celebrations.