Thousands of Muslims across the Greater Toronto Area are gathering to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, a three-day holiday marking the end of Ramadan.
Eid al-Fitr, which means the festival of the breaking of the fast, follows the holy month of Ramadan that sees Muslims across the world fasting every day from dawn to sunset to work towards self-purity, self-control and self-discipline.
“What you see here is a day of celebration,” Omar Farouk, president of the International Muslim Organization (IMO) told CityNews.
“It’s a day when an entire community, every family member comes together to send prayers and thanks to God Almighty for blessing us and affording us the opportunity to celebrate this month and this date.”
Prime Minister Stephen Harper sent his well wishes to the Muslim community in Canada in a statement on Tuesday.
“Our country is home to a vibrant community of more than 500,000 Muslims, who play a vital role in enriching our diverse society and helping make Canada stronger in all areas of endeavour. The end of Ramadan is a time to reflect on their contributions.”
“On behalf of all Canadians, I offer my most heartfelt wishes for health and happiness to all those celebrating Eid al-Fitr.”
This year, Tuesday marked the first morning of Eid, where Muslims will gather at a mosque for a morning prayer and to reflect on how Ramadan went. Two Eid prayers were held at the IMO Islamic Centre in Rexdale early Tuesday.
“The mosque is filled to capacity with men, women, and children all coming together for the sake of enjoyment and peace and happiness,” Farouk said.
“It is our hope that this peace and whatever we have learned during the month of fasting will remain with us for the next Ramadan.”
Celebrating Muslims partake in festive meals to mark the holiday. By tradition, Muslims visit family and friends, buy new clothes and give to charity to mark the holiday.
“A lot of people will eat their traditional meals from their homeland,” Feizal Azeez said at the morning prayer.
“It’s a day of festivity; it’s a day of plenty after the fast of Ramadan.”
One young girl is looking forward to feasting on rice, rich curries and baked goods like baklava.
“We eat everything, all of the goodies,” she said.
Elsewhere, Muslims also marked the end of Ramadan with early morning prayers and celebrations.
Tens of thousands of Egyptians prayed in celebration of Eid in Tahrir Square, where an uprising toppled long-standing president Hosni Mubarak in February.