An annual community gathering to celebrate Eid al Adha and Pakistan Independence Day will be held for the first time in Napier in a few weeks. This is the time of year when families originally from Pakistan and settled in Napier get together to give thanks for graces and to share blessings with others, says Pakistan Association New Zealand (PANZ) Hawke's Bay branch regional representative, Syed Khurram Iqbal.
"Eid al Adha is a sign of gratitude for all the good things we have received and is also a time of Muslim community celebration for families to appreciate being together and living in accord with other members of the community."
Ninety people are invited to the event, including the Napier and Hastings mayors, MP Stuart Nash, Katie Nimon from the National Party, Pakistan High Commission representatives, Eastern District Police representatives, Pakistan community families in both cities and other community leaders. The event will begin with an introduction and welcoming by Syed, before addresses by Dr Abdul Malik from the Pakistan High Commission, the Minister of Police, Stuart Nash and mayor of Napier, Kirsten Wise. A cake cutting ceremony will follow, before lunch of traditional Pakistan food cooked by Napier chefs and an open session in the afternoon.
Syed says this will be a casual gathering, with songs relevant to Pakistan Independence. It is part of a religious celebration, but no religious activities will be performed in the event, he says.
"The word 'eid' means 'festival'. There are two major eids in the Islamic calendar per year – Eid al-Fitr earlier in the year and Eid al-Adha later. Eid al-Fitr is a three-day-long festival and is known as the 'Lesser' or 'Smaller Eid' when compared to Eid al-Adha, which is four-days-long and is known as the 'Greater Eid'. The reason behind this event is to have the Pakistani community celebrate the festivities and have the opportunity to invite local public representatives to be part of the event. We enjoy sharing our food and traditions with our neighbours, friends, and relatives. This will provide a good opportunity for local representatives to meet the members of the Pakistani community in Hawke's Bay."
Syed says as well as bringing people closer together, the event also gives the children an introduction to their culture.
"This also provides an opportunity for our children to mingle with children of other Pakistani families. This will also provide opportunities for our local representatives to see the Pakistani community flourishing and playing a vital role in the wider Hawke's Bay community. Inviting other community members is to spread the message of unity, faith, and discipline as New Zealand residents in Hawke's Bay."
When asked about this event, Syed says Kiwi Muslims often say, "It's like our Christmas".
"Like Christmas, Eid is a time to celebrate the faith, to be charitable, to visit friends and family, and to exchange gifts."