SAYREVILLE – Eid-al-Adha is a celebration for family and friends to gather, pray, share memories and enjoy.
That is what Sanober Syed, Nafia Naveed, Muznah Aquil and Nazifa Naveed, who are all from the Sayreville area, said the celebration was all about.
“Eid is a celebration to get families and friends together and as you can see, they are all here,” said Nazifa, 16, who is a student at Sayreville War Memorial High School. “We’re just here to have fun.”
Members of the Masjid Sadar Community Center did not let the rain from the night before hinder their festive celebration at Kennedy Park on July 9 to observe the Islamic holy day.
“The holiday teaches us sacrifice, solidarity and sincerity to our God,” Tayyibah Sadar, who is part of a volunteer women’s group at the event.
Part of the American Islamic experience has been to turn the Eid al-Adha holiday into a family affair, according to Iqbal Mohammed, who coordinated public affairs and civic engagement for the celebration.
“While Eid carnivals have become a common practice in recent years, the growth of the American Muslim community means more and more Eid al-Adha events take place away from a mosque and in a temporary venue,” he said. “The event combines traditional Eid prayer services, and a carnival atmosphere.”
The celebration began with prayer. Dignitaries followed with proclamations and blessings.
“[This celebration] is a testament to how New Jersey has grown, how diversified our communities are,” Middlesex County Commissioner Deputy Director Shanti Narra said. “I grew up in Middlesex County in North Brunswick. I came here in the 1970s before there was a such a vibrant diverse community all over this state and county.”
And as the years have gone by seeing people of different faiths and cultures, Narra said she feels comfortable to live, to worship, to shop and to pray in America.
“It is a testament to all the other communities welcoming us and supporting us,” she said.
Narra was joined by Assemblywoman Yvonne Lopez (D-19), who presented a joint legislative resolution to honor the Eid al-Adha to Sayreville Muslim community and the American Muslims for Hunger Relief (AMFHR), Dan Harris, on behalf of Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-19), Sayreville Borough Council members Mary Novack and Vincent Conti and Gail Lala, president of the Middlesex County Young Democrats.
On behalf of the Sayreville Police Department, Lt. James Novack received an appreciation award for their commitment and dedication to serving the citizens of Sayreville with honor, integrity and professionalism.
Tom Pollando, chairman of the Sayreville Democratic Organization, said Sayreville is “the most successful and harmonious multicultural society in New Jersey.”
“The Sayreville Muslim community plays an important role in strengthening our diverse social fabric,” he said.
Imam a Muslim leader similar to a priest or pastor led the morning prayers. He began with the call of prayer and greeting of “Eid Mubarak.” He then gave a sermon.
“It’s very, very important that we do not forget the lesson of Hajj and the prophet,” he said.
For 18-year-old Nafia, Eid normally means “buying new clothes, receiving traditional cash gifts, eating out, going to a trampoline park or an arcade after prayers.
“It means a day where I can just relax and just remember that I’m so happy and proud to be a Muslim,” she said.
Now, Nafia has even more reason to celebrate.
The Sayreville War Memorial High School alumni who currently attends the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy at Rutgers University, said while in high school, they had been advocating for Eid to be a day off from school. Last year, district officials approved the day off to accommodate Eid.
The decision sent a message “that we, as a community, welcome everyone that lives here,” Nafia said.