SFU’s Pakistan Students Association (PSA) and Ismaili Students Association (ISA) came together to throw an Eid party in Freedom Square.
The event was held on Saturday, July 18, from around 9:00 p.m. until the early morning hours, past 1:00 a.m. Tickets for the event were $15 per person and included lots of ethnic foods and live performances.
The party was held in celebration Eid al-Fitr, a three-day long Islamic festival which marks the end of the month of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. Ramadan is the holiest month for Muslims, and is commonly known as the month where adherents of the faith fast during the days, from dawn to dusk.
Zainab Bukhari, the President of the PSA, explained that this was the first time Eid was celebrated on campus. “For the first time, there was an Eid event [. . .] and on the exact day of Eid.” Usually the club hosts dinners during Ramadan, known as “iftar,” but in the past it has done nothing special for Eid.
The PSA and ISA found a common ground in their shared faith and common ethnicity, and decided, rather than throwing two separate Eid events, to collaborate and create something on a larger scale in order to engage more of the SFU community.
Bukhari explained the collaboration was initiated by the president of the ISA, looking for a way to garner a large audience to partake in the festivities.
“Since [the] majority of our members are international students, this is one of the key events where they miss their home the most, because they are alone, they don’t have their family here. [. . .] So we thought to bring everyone together so they don’t feel homesick on [Eid].”
She also noted that the PSA wanted this event to convey a message to SFU’s international students, especially new ones, that there is a club that is available to provide support.
In addition to celebrating Eid, the organizers wanted to showcase South Asian culture to the SFU community through food and dance. Nikhil Maria, VP Finance of the PSA, explained, “It was basically just like a South Asian marriage.”
The decor, food, music, and performances took on a distinctly traditional theme, and the event’s colours were red and white. Many of the attendees donned traditional South Asian garments, in an array of colours and styles.
The evening consisted of a number of performances by groups such as the SFU Bollywood Dance Team, an Afghan dance group, and independent Afghan and Russian singers. Although the event primarily showcased and celebrated South Asian culture, the organizers worked hard to ensure it was inclusive of individuals from all religious and cultural backgrounds.
Attendees enjoyed a number of traditional and non-traditional dishes, including biryani, kebabs, naan, dhal (curried lentils), kheer (South Asian rice pudding), salads, cheesecakes that were catered by SFU Dining Services, and more.
Maria identified catering as one of the biggest challenges they faced in organizing the event. “This food was really tough to get onto the campus,” he said. “I think they should be more lenient because [food from Dining Services is] 10 times more expensive than what we [can] get from outside.”
After the performances and food, there was a large dance party, which ended with a raffle for door prizes. Prizes included gift baskets and gift cards from Nester’s Market and Bonchaz Bakery.
Overall, Bukhari was pleased with the range of attendees at the event. “I had some friends who skipped their family events for this,” she noted. “Because they’re locals, they have their families here, and their commitments and all, but still, they came. To be honest, I didn’t really expect them [. . .] but still, they showed up, and it was really nice.”