Organisers have cancelled Europe’s biggest Eid celebration in Birmingham because it would not meet Covid rules.
Eid in the Park takes place every year in Small Heath Park, Birmingham, to mark the end of the holy month of Ramadan with the festivities of Eid al-Fitr.
Every year more than 70,000 Muslims gather in the park for prayers, food and other festivities including fairground rides.
The event has grown in numbers since its inception in 2011 with a record number of 140,000 people attending in 2018.
But the massive gathering was cancelled in 2020 because of coronavirus restrictions.
And it won’t be allowed to go ahead in 2021 either, said Green Lane Masjid and Community Centre (GLMCC), one of the key organisers in the group of local mosques who come together to put on the massive event.
A joint statement by GLMCC resident imams said: “We all look forward to our large outdoor Eid gatherings with tens of thousands attending our annual Eid in the Park events.
“In line with the lockdown rules, we will not be running the annual Eid in the Park celebration for Eid al-Fitr this year.
“However, if we remain on the current Government trajectory of coming out of lockdown, we intend to hold six jamats in the masjid as we did last year.”
They added: “Closer to the time, we will put out more guidance about Eid al-Fitr.”
Jamat is the Islamic word for a congregation. So that means there will be six separate prayer gatherings at Green Lane Masjid on the day of Eid to allow as many people as possible to attend the mosque for socially distanced worship.
Birmingham Central Mosque, in Belgrave Middleway, Highgate, has announced it will have five jamats, at 7am, 8am, 9am, 10am and 11am.
Eid al-Fitr – also written as Eid ul Fitr – means Festival of the Breaking of the Fast. It comes after Ramadan, the month of fasting during daylight hours, and is on the first day of the next month, Shawwal.
Celebrations in the Muslim community typically last for around three days, with public holidays in countries across the Islamic world.
According to the Umm al-Qura Calendar of Saudi Arabia, which is used to plan ahead for big events and national holidays, Eid al-Fitr 2021 is predicted to fall on Thursday, May 13.
The date depends on a verified sighting of the first faint crescent of the new moon at the end of Ramadan so it could vary by a day or so, depending on astronomical observations in different locations.
Some communities follow the announcements from Saudi Arabia, while others look for moon sightings in the UK, Morocco or elsewhere.
Government coronavirus guidance for those visiting a place of worship to celebrate a religious festival include:
- Follow the measures put in place such as booking systems, changes to entrances and exits or staggered arrivals.
- If possible, watch services online to avoid large gatherings.
- Don’t mingle with anyone outside of your household or support bubble.
- Stick to social distancing, meaning people should be two metres apart, or more than one metre apart if taking extra steps such as wearing face coverings.
- Wear a face covering (unless you are exempt).
- Provide your contact details to the place of worship to support the NHS Test and Trace service.
- Only you touch your belongings – for example, shoes if removed.
- Take home any personal items brought in to aid worship, such as a prayer mat, prayer beads, or any ritual items associated with the festival.
- Leave promptly after prayers/worship and don’t mingle with each other following a service.
Key rules for places of worship include:
- Live-stream worship or other events to avoid large gatherings and reach those individuals who are self-isolating or particularly vulnerable to Covid-19.
- Remove communal resources such as prayer mats or prayer books. Single-use alternatives should be removed after use and disposed of by the worshipper.
- Speak into a microphone to lead devotions or sermons to avoid shouting. Avoid sharing microphones between different speakers.
- Singing should be limited to one person wherever possible. Where it is essential to the service, up to three individuals should be permitted to do so. Strict social distancing should be observed and the use of screens should be considered to protect worshippers and each other.
- Avoid congregational singing or audience participation.