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    CELEBRATION OF EID AL-FITR IS TESTAMENT TO THE RESILIENCE OF THE NEW AFGHAN COMMUNITY

    Date:

    By Khalida Dawran

    Eid al-Fitr is one of the most famous religious festivals for Muslims throughout the world and Afghans celebrate this festival with great splendour. 

    After the fall of the Afghan government 14 months ago, thousands of people escaped the new Taliban regime via emergency military planes and many came to Australia. More than forty Afghan families were resettled in Sunshine and the surrounding areas. Some of these people are celebrating Eid al-Fitr for the second time in their new neighbourhoods. 

    Their lifestyles still have an Afghan atmosphere and they eagerly celebrate their cultural and religious ceremonies. Afghan stores take great care in preparing Eid-appropriate goods that are in tune with the festival mood. This ensures that buyers can celebrate their religious and traditional days without feeling disappointed, while creating a warm and familiar atmosphere in the markets.

    Naeem Nawrozi is a dedicated Afghan businessman who left his homeland 13 years ago to build a new life in Melbourne. He is the proud owner of Nawrozi Market, a treasure trove of authentic and traditional Afghan products that are beloved by his fellow Afghans as well as local customers from all walks of life. Naeem understands the unique needs and desires of his Afghan customers and takes great pride in being able to fulfil these whether it’s a special ingredient for a popular family recipe, a unique range of spices and teas, or colourful Afghani cookies and dry fruits for special occasions.

    But the celebrations can be bitter sweet. When Afghan couples become engaged, the boy’s family takes Eid gifts to the girl’s house two or three days before Eid. These gifts include jewellery, clothes, cosmetics, delicious sweets, dry fruits and other gifts for the bride and her family. Unfortunately for Mohammad who got engaged in Afghanistan, he left behind his fiancée when he escaped. He therefore cannot visit her nor celebrate the Eid days by offering gifts to her home. This has caused him great sadness, as he values upholding the cherished Afghan tradition. Mohammad firmly believes that the true beauty of life can be experienced within a society and culture to which one belongs.

    During the night of Eid, which marks the last Iftar of Ramadan without Suhr, Afghan families prepare delectable and unique traditional dishes such as Kabila Paulo, chicken or vegetables Paulo, lamb or goat curry and Fereni, or sweets. 

    It is also common for young girls to adorn their hands with henna. Children eagerly anticipate receiving Eid gifts, as it is customary for elders within the family to give out Eid money after the Eid prayer. On Eid nights children sleep restlessly, hoping to get Eid gifts the next day.

    On the day of Eid, men gather in mosques to offer Eid prayer, while women join in if conditions are suitable. After the prayer, Muslims hug each other and exchange greetings of “Eid Mubarak” (Blessed Eid).

    In the inner west, the Cyprus Turkish community Mosque in Sunshine is a place where Afghans come together with their fellow Muslims to celebrate Eid al-Fitr in a joyous congregation. 

    Amin and his family are among those who attended the prayer for the second time, revelling in the sense of community and unity that surrounds them. After the Eid prayer, families often make their way to the mosque to visit their elders. For many Afghan families in Sunshine, their loved ones are far away, and their only family and relatives are other Afghans in the community.

    It was the same for me and my husband on the first day of Eid. Like the Afghans around us, we visited some Afghan families to celebrate Eid since we do not have any relatives or family members nearby. One of the families we visited was the Hayati family, whom we have come to know in Melbourne. We often spend special occasions and days with them, as being in their presence brings back memories of our homeland. 

    The Hayati family’s home is decorated in a traditional Afghan style, with rugs and mattresses replacing modern furniture. As we sat at the Eid table filled with dried fruits and various homemade cookies and sweets, memories of Kabul flooded our minds and in a blink of an eye we felt as though we were back home.

    For Afghans in the inner west, celebrating Eid al-Fitr has been a way of keeping cultural traditions alive while adapting to a new environment. Despite the challenges of being resettled in a new country, these families have found comfort in maintaining their cultural practices, and Eid al-Fitr is a reminder of their roots and heritage.  

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