For the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, the Muslim community in Regina is celebrating the festival of breaking the fast, also known as Eid-al-Fitr, in person.
Marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, festivities begin with a special morning prayer at mosques and in open air spaces, later moving on to feasts and more celebration.
More than 10,000 Muslims attended Eid prayers on Monday morning at a local mosque in eastern Regina. Arslan Ahmed, a volunteer present at the celebration, said they had these prayers last year as well but with social distancing.
They limited people from coming to the mosque. No women and children were allowed nor were people over the age of 60. They had to ask people to leave for home immediately after the prayer not allowing them to shake hands or give hugs.
Now with the restrictions gone, Ahmed said women are permitted to come to the mosque.
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“Women had to say their prayers at home, they were not allowed to come to the mosque due to local and regional guidelines, having both men and women- capacity would have not been maintained,” he said.
Sabiha Javid was also at the mosque and said, “I feel wonderful and happy, we have been coming for our regular prayers, we are all gathered here to say Alhamdulillah (praise be to God).”
She added that they were there to say Eid namaz prayers, have snacks and go for a barbeque afterwards.
She said that during lockdowns men were leading the prayers at home and women were to stand behind or next to them and say the prayers. She also said that they are happy to be wearing their colourful clothes and makeup and expressing gratitude for being at the mosque.
Haseeb Qureshi is the secretary at The Islamic Association of Saskatchewan and he said he was elated and thrilled to be out there, to be able to celebrate with everyone in the community.
“It was just lovely to be among these people and seeing all these faces,” he said.
Qureshi said that for a lot of people it was a sweet surprise. He said the joy of being together was visible among the people.
“The prayer is not just a prayer … it’s community’s way to be together, come together and mingle and socialize,” he added.