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As Ramadan ends, thousands celebrate Eid al-Fitr in New Zealand

8:24 pm on 12 April 2024

Muslims nationwide celebrated Eid al-Fitr on Thursday after the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand confirmed the sighting of a new moon the previous evening.

Wednesday's sighting brought an end to a month of fasting and reflection in the community as it observed Ramadan, which is one of the five pillars of Islam.

During Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn until sunset, forgoing food and water to deepen their spiritual connection with Allah.

To mark the end of Ramadan, a day-long community event was organised at Auckland's Eden Park that attracted close to 15,000 visitors.

A similar celebration took place at Wellington's Sky Stadium, with others planned over the weekend, including events in Hamilton and Christchurch that are scheduled to be held on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

The weekend celebrations have been organised by the New Zealand Eid Day Trust.

Close to 15,000 gather in Auckland to celebrate the end of the most blessed month in the Islamic calendar.

Close to 15,000 gather in Auckland to celebrate the end of the most blessed month in the Islamic calendar. Photo: RNZ / Blessen Tom

Eid celebrations typically start with prayers offered in community gatherings and mosques in the morning.

An Eid carnival - like the event held at Eden Park - is then organised that includes activities for children such as bouncy castles, candy floss, cotton candy, goodie bags, Qur'an quizzes, gladiator duels and face painting. In addition, the festival features food stalls, henna art, sausage sizzles and ethnic clothing counters.

"All of our Eid events are open to the public," says Javed Dadabhai, chairman of the New Zealand Eid Day Trust. "Everyone is welcome to come and learn about our culture, attire, food, language and religion.

"In addition, one of the main goals of the trust is to help young Muslims in New Zealand create an identity that is a blend of being a Muslim and being a Kiwi, as we are proud of both."

Bilal Slaimankhel, secretary of Auckland's Ponsonby Mosque, shares a similar sentiment.

"The entire month of Ramadan and Eid, which signals the end of it, is like a big community celebration," Slaimankhel says. "Especially when we have iftars (meals that break the fast after sunset, which typically include dates), New Zealand Police, the next-door neighbours, our office colleagues ... everyone joins us."

New Zealand's Pakistani community also organised its biggest celebration this month - the Ramadan Night Bazaar and Chaand Raat (the term mainly used on the Indian subcontinent to describe the night when the moon is sighted, which falls on the eve of Eid al-Fitr).

This year's celebration was organised on 6 April at Auckland's Western Springs Community Hall.

"Every year our celebration grows bigger, with our Indian brothers and sisters in attendance, along with Bangladeshis as well as Fijians," says Ajaz Nusret, president of the Pakistan Association of New Zealand. "Back home in Pakistan, Chaand Raat is a big thing, and we try to bring the same vibe here in New Zealand."

Another event for Ramadan was organised at West Auckland's New Lynn Community Hub the same evening.

"We have many different ethnicities participating every year, bringing their traditional foods and clothing," says Shadi Sotoodeh, community programme specialist at the venue. "This time we also had stalls selling Indian art and paintings with Islamic calligraphy."

The role of women has changed in recent years as the community marks Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr.

"It's really important to acknowledge women do additional emotional and physical labour during the month of Ramadan," says Tayyaba Khan, a Pakistani New Zealander. "As the woman is a carer of the house, it is immediately expected that she will do the cooking and cleaning, along with fulfilling all of her spiritual obligations.

"But it is not meant to be like that, and I think things are slowly shifting. People are recognising that ... we've been unfair and inequitable in terms of our gender dynamics.

"So now families are starting to work on these things together. You cook together, you clean together," she says. "In essence, you share the labour because a woman is equally allowed to practice her faith."

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