16 October saw the University of Lincoln’s Islamic Society hold their Eid Party, reports Calum Watt – a Muslim festival to celebrate their submission to God by making charitable donations and, in this case, holding a massive party for students, staff and anyone in the local community who fancied some free food and general festivities.
Etiquette at events such as this throughout the Muslim world and sub-continental India usually demands that guests to a party contribute some food of their own. We had, in fact, already prepared some dhal for just this purpose and I pointed out it was quite likely that there was already plenty of rice and that we probably didn’t need to bring any more…
Consequently, we arrived rather later than expected, clutching our dhal and our rice in containers as we entered the Atrium to the sounds of passages from the Quran echoing and drifting throughout the cavernous building.
The brothers were already praying to the East, bowing and rising in unison while around fifty people including women in headscarves and men in western dress milled about or took their seats on the sofas or at the tables at the opposite end. Children tore around the room trailing balloons in their hands and chasing one another.
It was a few minutes before I could grab my first interview with Jammil Ahmed, Communications Officer of the Islamic Society. Over the sound of traditional Eastern music blaring out from the speakers, I asked him why this Party was being held this week, when Eid, had in fact occurred two weeks ago on 4 October.
“We tend to find that most resident students prefer to go home to celebrate Eid with their families, it leaves the international students with not much of a social group to celebrate the Eid with,” he said.
“In order to create the atmosphere of an Eid, it’s best to include the resident students as well… so we celebrate a sort of belated Eid party, just to make them feel a bit more comfortable about Lincoln, about having the festival recognised as well, giving them a chance to celebrate it as they would do at home.”
Jammil added that the lack of such an event last year had really been “felt” and that, following the Islamic Society’s receipt of a £500 prize for ‘Getting Lincoln Recognised’, they had decided to save this for Eid in order to “make the Fresher’s feel a lot more welcome early on in the year.” The rest of the money was raised through bake sales and Friday prayer collections.
When asked if he would like it to become an annual event, he said: “It would be nice for it to be an annual thing and there has been interest from the Chaplaincy [of the University] as well as the International Office because they realise the importance it can provide for international students.
“It may be one day of the year where they can wear their traditional clothes…eat their traditional food and just gives them that sense of recognition.”
Afterwards, he spoke at length to The Linc as he described the differences between this festival (Eid al-Adha) and Eid al-Fitr, which celebrates the end of Ramadan (this year in July). He was delighted to see some of his colleagues from work and the community, including many non-Muslims, echoing the apparent consensus of the room.
Rosanne Kirk, City of Lincoln Councillor and Portfolio Holder for Social Inclusion and Community Cohesion, was mingling next to what had been converted from prayer space to kitchen to dance floor over the course of the evening.
Retreating for a moment from the revelry and loud music, she said that one of her priorities as Portfolio Holder was to encourage communication between different groups and that she would be very happy to come to more events put on by groups at the University in future.
She said: “It is really good to have [this] in the University because it engages the community and allows people to learn about different cultures and celebrate together.”
It is hoped that there will be more events like this for people from all these many groups; charities, student societies, the University, and the Council; to work together and enjoy.Tweet