A time of fasting, feasting and celebrations

‘Eidster’ is a time for family gatherings, fasting, kindness and sacrifice. Pascal Adolphe reports.

Image: A feast of food and family for the Islamic faithful and their friends at Punchbowl Public School .

For Belmore Boys High School, the Muslim holy month of Ramadan presents an opportunity to honour both Islam and Christianity.

With Ramadan coinciding with Easter this year, it’s an ideal time to celebrate ‘Eidster’, the school’s annual celebration of all faiths.

Belmore Boys High principal Hala Ramadan said the same concept was essentially at the heart of Easter and Ramadan.

“Fasting is common to both Ramadan and Lent and there’s religious rituals associated with sacrifice, kindness, spiritual cleansing and connection,” she said.

“It’s also a time when families gather and spend a lot of time around the table eating and visiting friends and family.”

Ms Ramadan said 80 per cent of her students were of the Muslim faith but many of her non-Muslim staff and students also fasted in solidarity during Ramadan. The school hall is also open at lunchtime for Muslim students to pray.

Each year the school holds an Eidster Show on the school grounds to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan. The show features rides, a petting zoo and activities.

This year’s event is scheduled for May even though April 22 will mark the end of Ramadan and the start of Eid festivities for the Muslim community.

Image: Sarah Lanesbury and Bilal Elhindi with their children, Jamilah, Amirah and Ayah, at the Punchbowl Public School Iftar dinner.

Many other schools with Muslim students, such as Punchbowl Public School, have marked Ramadan with Iftar dinners.

The daily fast observed by the Islamic faithful during Ramadan begins immediately after the pre-dawn meal known as suhur and continues during the daylight hours, ending with sunset and the evening meal of Iftar.

Punchbowl Public School principal Donna McGeary said the school’s celebration of Ramadan started in 2019 but then stopped due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

She said the Iftar dinner would now become an annual event on the school calendar.

“It’s a night where the diversity of our community shines brightly,” Ms McGeary said.

“We have 58 per cent Arabic speakers here and many other students from different cultures who are Muslim.

“We had a fantastic turnout for this year’s Iftar dinner. We had 220 guests – families, current and former teachers, local schools and community leaders – who gathered in the school hall to share a meal in the spirit of Ramadan, which is essentially about giving to others. It was such a positive atmosphere.”

The dinner was supported by Human Appeal through a charitable donation that was used to fund the catering for the night.

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