BY: HABEEB ALI
Last year, on a day like today, Sept 11th, we celebrated for the first time Eid by the Lake in Ajax Toronto.
To commemorate 2017 Eid-al-Adha, we embarked on an Interfaith prayer remembering the victims of 9/11 and praying for world peace! This year’s theme was “Unity”. We also thought that having this event in an open space welcoming neighbours and friends during our celebration will return the feelings of being in the “home country’! This year we remember the victims of the recurring Hurricanes in the U.S. and throughout the Caribbean and the stateless people of Rohyinga during a minute of silence.
With our great Canadian flag and Canada150 banners gracing the hall, the day began with the amazing MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes of Whitby bringing greetings from the Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, added with her own energy and diversity experience followed by the Canadian National Anthem. Later, with a message from the Premiere of Ontario, Kathleen Wynne brought by MPP for Whitby/Oshawa, Granville Anderson whose personal diversity and engagement were refreshing, the Festival kicked off. Habeeb Alli welcomed all and reminding attendees that the Prophet Abraham thought us to love all.
The event was soon abuzz with people flowing through the beautiful Abilities Centre in Whitby ON, a stone’s throw from Lake Ontario. People heard about the free event meant to bring people together against hate and racism in Durham from a wide variety of media including Durham news and flyers left in the mosques and stores. Some found out about it from family and friends and of course from DJ Riyad Sangeet TV!
The food vendors and volunteers were amazing, creating the feel of a Festival. The added attraction was the fabulous musical talents of Soma Kissoon, Raza Rizvi, Nazroon Khan, Munir Mohamed, Nazim Mohamed and Qudsia Hussian adding joy and at times sweet nostalgia with their Indian golden melodies! People travelled from as far as Peterborough and Cambridge and throughout the GTA to be there!
Outside the atrium, the patio was smoking with bar-b-que burgers and hot dogs, supplied by Crescent Fine Foods and the fish was a rush, made tasty by Shawn Baksh, who had turned his fans into a frenzy for the fresh Guyana fish! The food included chow mien, biryani, roti wrap, phoulourie, kebab, pani puri, cotton candy, fresh smoothies, samosas, etc. Feroze Hack and Janet Ferouz did an excellent job with their team to keep the bellies happy and tongues sweet this Eid by the Lake 150 celebration!
Inside the atrium, things warmed up as MC Anela Jadunandan, Community Advocate and Waqqar Raees of Friends Indeed, shared the floor by unveiling the Canada Post Eid Mubarak stamp plaque and later had a cake cutting ceremony where all participants were invited to join! Rafeek Baksh the official photographer took perhaps the largest selfie yet!
The last day of summer was perfect as people hang outside and families were treated to face painting thanks to Anisah Mobin from Muslim Water Fund and henna thanks to Eklas Merchant from Abraham Festival in Peterborough. The Interfaith segment, however, was indeed a significant contribution to end the growing racism and Islamophobia in Durham. Pundit Basil Maharaj, Rev Christopher White, Rabbi Karen Goodis, Imam Shakir Pandor and Reverend Earl Smith brought messages of unity from their respective traditions. Tahmeena Bokhari, the popular MC for this segment, has been a fierce advocate fighting anti-Black racism and promoting equity, she shared her journey of being a Woman of Influence awardee from the Muslim Canadian Council of Women (MCCM) by standing up to bullies since she was a child!
Altogether the many sponsors including Mark Itwaru from Peeks App, Somalia Relief, Human Concern, Brampton Islamic Centre, One Parent, Canadian Pakistani Association, Alif Canada and others were duly recognised.
Funds raised from the event are for helping single mothers and orphans in Toronto through the new non-profit One Parent Muslim Foundation – oneparent.ca