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Islamic Cultural Festival in Anaheim
The tall figure of Bill Dalati ambles down the street, keenly watching the people, picking out friends in the crowd and making sure that the Festival shapes up perfectly. People know him. He ran for City Council. He only started organizing the Festival two months ago! And here is Center St. Promenade filled with more booths than you may ever have seen: Informational, cultural, travel, banking, religious, crafts, food, food, food, and all the fun of a carnival with rides set up right across from the ice rink. The Lemon Street area is adorned with a large stage, and chairs await the audience for when the show begins. Suddenly the Muslim call to prayer sounds out. Most people carry on with what they are doing, but some discreetly kneel for the three minute time of devotion.
This is the EID, the celebration marking the end of Ramadan with it’s month of fasting and spiritual introspection. Al Jabbar (AUHSD Board member) pauses to explain the details to Autumn Browne (AUHSD Theatre Teacher - below).
If there was a message implicitly emerging from the people it was this; we are a people of Peace. We know what it’s like to live in a society where all manner of people and faiths are tolerated. We are here to celebrate our distinctives, share our faith and yet respect the faith of others. We are part of the citizenry of the United States. A man giving away the Quran, declaring he loves Jesus, explained that in America there were times when the states fell into hideous civil war as they figured out how to live with differences. Since then democracy has grown to a point where there are no dictators. If you do not like one president you can throw him out – peacefully. But the people of Egypt have not yet learnt that this is the way to go. It will take time. We have to be patient.
Mom creates a cloud of bubbles for her daughter's delight.
The OC Register reports that the City of Anaheim sponsored the Festival to the tune of $7,500. Middle Eastern food is very popular in Anaheim. This was a good place to break the fast. Dina Abdo, Executive Director of the Festival explained: "Not all Muslims are Arab and not all Arabs are Muslim. It’s a celebration of our differences and our similarities."
Islamic art does not depict people or animals, but rather designs and ornately decorated texts from the Quran. But we found one artist, Thar Al-Sayegh, who has boldly stepped outside that mold. “I have been looking for my unique style for 10 years. I think I may have found it.” His Facebook gallery is certainly filled with gorgeous paintings. Take a look. You will not be disappointed!
Our picture gallery draws together some of our own images from the early part of the day on Saturday August 17th. The event doubtless grew in energy as the day turned into night with its music, comedy, the fragrance of falafels and other Middle Eastern delights.
Wonderful rich colors of the clothing.
Booths filled both sides of the street
You can almost smell the food from this kitchen!