I was invited to my first Eid celebration, the result was a lesson in its universal beauty

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Every few months my mom travels to Ann Arbor for work at the University of Michigan and we always try to visit for at least a day or two. You see, I grew up on the West Coast. My mother’s in Culver City. My sister’s in the Bay Area. I’ve got cousins in the San Fernando Valley, as well as in the Pacific Northwest. Being a freelance writer based in Detroit, I can’t always afford to make my way “back home,” so my mom’s work trips have turned into an efficient system to stay in touch.

This time around, her visit happened to fall on Eid and so were invited to one celebration, hosted by the Muslim Community of Western Suburbs. I had gotten to know members of the community over the past year or so through my reporting on Ramadan for the Detroit Metro Times and, more recently, here in Tostada Magazine.

In my nearly six years living in Michigan, I’ve come to learn that being asked to join in on such a special occasion is considered a huge honor. Whenever my non-Muslim friends are invited to a neighbor’s Iftar, for example, they revel in the chance to literally break bread and become more connected with one another. Here, I’m sharing some of my observations after witnessing my first Eid celebration, with photos shot by the talented Rizwan Lokhandwala (check out more of his work on Instagram).

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The Eid festivities kick off with a special invocation, followed by Salat al-Eid, inside a banquet hall at Burton Manor in Livonia…

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Pictured here, Haaris Ahmad, president of the Muslim Community of Western Suburbs.
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Ahmad tells me that when the community first established around the late ’80s, it mostly consisted of families of South Asian heritage. It’s since grown to include a diverse spectrum of members of all races and ethniticies.
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When my mother and I arrive, we’re told there are maybe 5,000 people in attendance, so we stand back and observe from the hallway.
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We hear it may be time to look for a bigger venue for next year’s holiday, maybe Cobo Center or Ford Field will be more appropriate.
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After prayer, worshippers head out to the hallway and embrace in hugs, while the children are showered with Eid gifts (photo by Shahid Syed).
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And, of course, plenty of bounce houses are on hand to help with the festivities.

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In the weeks leading up to Eid, families fret over all the details of the day…
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The perfect Eid ensemble, for example, is usually on everyone’s minds (the right shoes can make or break an outfit, as seen here).

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And family… Some families fly in from other parts of the country to be together this one time of year.
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After prayer and hugs have been shared, a ticketed brunch feeds the many who’ve been fasting during the Holy Month of Ramadan.

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Others will feast on Aljoom’s halal BBQ food truck.
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More than anything, Eid is about letting loose and having fun with family, like this cute couple posing at the photo booth.

After the Burton Manor gathering, many families continue on to brunch, house hop to each other’s homes and prepare for dinner with their own relatives.

My mom and I follow suit and dined at Le Petit Zinc, where we’re seated near another family dressed up, presumably coming from an Eid celebration of their own.

To be invited to participate in a tradition celebrated by more than 1 billion Muslims around the world reminds me that if we let go of our borders, we open ourselves up to a beautiful cultural exchange.

Eid Mubarak!

Author: Serena Maria Daniels

Serena Maria Daniels is the co-founder and head chingona of Tostada Magazine. She is an award-winning journalist based in Detroit and specializes on the intersection of food, identity, and culture.

Find her on Twitter and Instagram @serenamaria36!

1 Comment
  1. I was BLOWN away by my experience at an Eid celebration. I think it’s critical that “middle America” knows who the real Muslims are. Serena Maria Daniels is advancing this idea with coverage on Tostada Magazine.

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