Edmonton Eid al-Fitr celebrations altered on account of COVID-19 bodily distancing guidelines

Eid al-Fitr celebrations will look a little different in Edmonton this year due to COVID-19.

The province’s physical distancing and social gathering restrictions mean some Eid events have been canceled or moved online.

But that’s not stopping many in Edmonton’s Muslim community from getting creative for Sunday’s celebrations, said Yasin Cetin, outreach and engagement co-ordinator for the Edmonton chapter of the Muslim Association of Canada (MAC) and spokesperson for Rahma Mosque.

“We’re really trying to pivot and adapt to the new realities of being physically distant while still creating a festive atmosphere,” he told CBC’s Radio Active on Wednesday.

For Eid celebrations, making the end of Ramadan, Rahma Mosque typically would see as many as 9,000 people attend, he said.

But for this year’s event, Rahma Mosque is joining other MAC centers across the country to “host Canada’s largest-ever Eid celebration” online to keep people safe during the pandemic, said Cetin.

He expects upwards of 80,000 may tune in to the event across the country.

Singers, spoken word poets and more will be part of the event that starts at 7:30 am MT on Sunday.

The mosque is also allowing people aged 15 to 60 to come to the mosque for prayers on Sunday, by hosting shifts of up to 50 people at a time to adhere to the province’s social gathering rules and to accommodate physical distancing rules.

“Every 45 minutes or every half an hour, there will be a set of Eid prayers, so folks will come in for that 50 people at a time,” he said. “Pray and then leave and then we sanitize and bring in new 50 people.”

Cetin said it was important to continue to celebrate at the mosque.

“At the end of the day, regardless of what is happening in the world, Eid is still a festival, should still bring joy to kids and instill happiness in people and bring communities together, even if it’s not such a great time,” Cetin said.

Some community events won’t be happening this year because of COVID-19, like one typically organized by Rubab Rizwan.

The event, which happens the night before Eid, allows people to watch performances, shop for things like jewelry and get henna tattoos, she said.

But because of physical distancing restrictions, Rizwan wasn’t able to host the event this year.

“At this point, I want to do something for the community but it’s hard to do it,” she told Radio Active.

Others have found ways to keep people entertained. Making sure children are entertained this Eid is something Humairah Irfan is trying to do.

Irfan has organized a treasure hunt in The Hamptons neighborhood in southwest Edmonton. She’s asking those who want to participate to register with her and set up tables on their driveways on Sunday with goodies like toys, cookies, storybooks and an Eid Mubarak sign so that kids can go on a treasure hunt.

She’s also creating a map so kids know where to go to score goodies this Eid.

“I didn’t want my kids to feel that we’re not doing anything and just be at home,” she said.

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