SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Muslims around the world are celebrating Eid al-Fitr.
It's a religious festival marking the end of the fast of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting.
"Our life is centered around connection with God and how to please God, so we will be happier," said Imam Amr Dabour, religious and social director at the Salam Islamic Center. "That's what we try to achieve in the month of Ramadan, by highlighting God. Then, comes the day of Eid."
This year, in the U.S., Eid al-Fitr begins on the evening of Sunday, May 1 and ends on the evening of Monday, May 2.
Muslims, typically, recognize Eid by praying, visiting family and friends, gift-giving, donating charity, making traditional dishes and sweets, wearing new clothes and so much more. In a COVID-19 era, marked with going remote or social distancing, Muslims are gathering in-person this year to celebrate Eid.
Hundreds of people attended a festival at the SALAM Islamic Center in Sacramento on Monday. It began with Eid prayer and ended with family-friendly celebrations. That includes giant slides and bounce houses for children, games, sports activities, gift bags, cotton candy and ice cream.
"It's always bittersweet, ending Ramadan," said Sam Khemici, who attended the event at the SALAM Islamic Center. "Now that a lot of COVID-19 restrictions have been eased, we're able to do a lot more, like seeing each other's faces. So, seeing those brothers and sisters that we were praying with, together at the end, it's beautiful."
Amira Elmallah is a volunteer at the Salam Islamic Center. She helped organize Eid celebrations this year. In 2020 and 2021, the center was forced to hold Eid virtually, with a limited in-person option due to the ongoing pandemic. But, Elmallah says bringing communities together, in-person, is a significant part of Eid.
"Last year, we did not have this celebration in person," said Elmallah. "There's a lot of spirituality you can get on your own, but there's an element that when the whole community comes together, it's just different. There's group prayer that we all do together and a huge part of it is doing it together. But, we were not able to do it in the first year of the pandemic."
The translation of Eid al-Fitr from Arabic is "celebration of breaking the fast." A common greeting during Eid al-Fitr is "Eid Mubarak," which means "Blessed feast, festival, or celebration."