August 8 was a day of celebration for people of the Muslim faith, as it was Eid al-Fitr –which happens the day after the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
About 15 members of the local Muslim community gathered at their meeting place on Fourth Street in Estevan for prayer, a message, fellowship and a meal to mark the joyous occasion. Games and activities were offered for children who were in attendance.
It's one of the first times that the local Muslim community has been able to have a gathering to celebrate the end of Ramadan, and it's another reminder of the changing dynamics and demographics in the Energy City.
"This is the biggest celebration for the Muslim nation in the world," said Syed Khalid, who is the vice-president of the Estevan Islamic Centre.
Some people in the world celebrated Eid al-Fitr on August 9, he said, as the end of Ramadan is based on when the crescent moon is spotted; for some, the sighting of the moon came too late to observe Eid al-Fitr on August 8. But Muslims in North America and elsewhere had their festivities on the 8th.
Ramadan was from July 9 to August 7 this year.
Hafiz Qasim Ayub, who has memorized the entire Quran, travelled from Toronto to Estevan to preside over the festivities. He delivered a brief sermon in English. Prayers followed, and then Ayub spoke in Arabic. Those in attendance hugged to mark the end of Ramadan.
A special meal was served. It included sawayyan, which is a sweet desert puree, early morning dry dates dipped in milk, and a food similar to a fried tortilla.
Khalid said they would have had more people for the Eid celebration if it had happened on a weekend. But it fell on a Thursday, and many local Muslims were at work.
Muslims fast from before sunrise until dusk during Ramadan, which meant that the daily fast was prolonged due to the extended daylight hours in North America in July and August.
On the final day of Ramadan, their fasting started at about 3:40 a.m., Khalid said.
"It's not only about hunger or thirst, it's also a very spiritual time," said Khalid. "You have to think about what you're saying, what you're listening to and what you're watching."
There are about 50 to 60 Muslims in Estevan, Khalid said, and it is a growing community, as people are relocating to Estevan from Ontario and other Canadian provinces to work in the city.
They had a musalla, which is a small mosque, inside Estevan's Pinetree Plaza from late 2011 to early 2013. But they were without a home for a few months this year.
They have been at their current location in the 1200 block of Fourth Street for nearly two months, and they have plans to purchase their own building.
A fundraising team is in place, and they have been to Regina already. They want to visit other communities to secure the necessary funds.