Over 2,000 people attended the Islamic New Year Festival and Night Market hosted by Muslim Youth OC to play carnival games, eat food, buy clothes and jewelry, learn to box and celebrate the occasion as a community.
Hoping to start a new celebratory tradition, the youth group has been organizing and planning the event since early April.
Nasheed Mashari, an Islamic chant group, performed and taught attendees the history and meaning about the new year.
Islamic New Year or Hijri in Arabic marks the start of a new 12 month lunar year for Muslims around the world and derives its name from Prophet Muhammad’s migration from the holy cities of Mecca to Medina.
Based on the moon, the Islamic calendar runs for 12 months and is about 11 days shorter than the solar based Gregorian calendar, which most OC residents observe.
This year, Hijri fell on July 19.
Rabab Khan and Nameera Syeda, two sisters, were among the many vendors that made up Saturday’s night market.
Syeda and Khan are owners of Desi Zaika – a home based business that whips up and sells Indian and Pakistani foods.
For Khan, Hijri marks the opportunity for a fresh start.
“As Muslims, it’s the start of a new year and it’s important from a religious point of view,” she said.
Food wasn’t the only thing on the menu Saturday.
Ahmad Ibrahim, a Palestinian American Muay Thai boxer and a World Boxing Council Champion, also was there giving out free lessons.
Ibrahim said that celebrating Islamic New Year in America is not a social norm but events like this help change that.
“Bringing awareness to this just gives us another way to shine bright and kind of change the social norms of what people think Muslims are. We’re just normal people having a fun time on a fun night,” he said.
At the same booth, Hanan “Chubz” Abo Abdo – the Palestinian Brazilian American owner of Chubz Bakery – was selling cookies after the boxing lesson.
She said it’s important to bring attention to Muslim holidays and celebrations like Eid, Ramadan and Hijri.
“This should be a big deal. This is our New Year,” Abo Abdo said. “I’m Muslim and I’m proud.”
People of all ages attended the night market including 12-year-olds Seewa Alqzah and Genesis Bernabe who are about to attend Sycamore Junior High.
Alqzah brought Bernabe to the festival to teach her friend about Muslim culture.
For Alqzah and Bernabe, one of the best parts of the celebration was the food.
“I like that everyone is really nice, all the booths and how many people came out,” Alqzah said.
Others like Mohammad Ibrahim, a 16-year-old attending Sunny Hills High School, coming to the festival was an opportunity to hang out with friends and have fun.
But for the Lebanese, Muslim American, it also has a greater significance.
“It’s been a cultural thing for many years and it’s important to pass on the tradition,” Mohammad said.
Here is a look at the celebration that took place this year:
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