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Chicago area Muslims celebrate end of Ramadan

Sujaan Uhor9 RidDesai 8 look Eid-ul-Fitr (end Ramadan) prayer/celebratithdrew 3000 areMuslims Holiday Inn Chicago North Shore Skokie Thursday. | Maudlyne

Sujaan Uhora, 9, and Rida Desai, 8, look on, at the Eid-ul-Fitr (end of Ramadan) prayer/celebration that drew 3,000 area Muslims to the Holiday Inn Chicago North Shore in Skokie Thursday. | Maudlyne Ihejirika~Sun-Times

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Updated: September 10, 2013 6:33AM

Outfitted in their brilliantly hued, bejeweled shalwar kameez, cousins Sujaan Uhora, 9, and Rida Desai, 8, jockeyed for position after their extended family left the Salaat al-Eid service.

Their family had attended the Eid-al-Fitr — end of Ramadan — prayer celebration drawing 3,000 area Muslims to the Holiday Inn Chicago North Shore on Thursday. It was time to take photos.

“Thank you very much,” Sujaan said shyly to compliments on her beautiful blue gown and newly hennaed hands. “I feel happy. We’re going to go eat.”

Across the world, Muslims celebrated one of the most joyous days on the Islamic calendar, marking the end of a holy month of prayer and fasting, and the first day of the 10th month of the Islamic lunar calendar, Shawwal. Eid-al-Fitr is determined by the sighting of the new moon.

Muslims end their fast with congregational prayers, festivals and great feasting.

About 30 to 40 members of the Desai and Uhora families were off to Sujaan’s home for lunch. Later Thursday, they would gather at the home of Rida’s parents for dinner.

“For 30 days, every Muslim fasts sunup to sundown. Every night we pray the holy Quran,” said Sujaan’s father, Maksub Uhora, 44, of Des Plaines. “Today, we are filled with happiness. We are on our way to celebrate with family and friends in different people’s houses.”

First, said Rida’s father, Javed Desai, 44, of Glenview, the family would enjoy cake and rice kheer — part of a tradition of celebrating with sweet delicacies.

Arian Mirzakhail, 28, came to prayers with wife Masuda, 23, and mother Shafiqua, 50. He lamented that many members of his large family, originally from Afghanistan, could not come, because of work.

“Back home, when I was a kid, we’d have these huge feasts,” Mirzakhail said. “It’s about tradition and culture, but at the end of the day, it’s a religious day. Tonight, we will gather at my mother’s for dinner. Had it been the weekend, we would have had a big party.”

Initially, the Chicago Hilal Committee — the established authority here determining when Islamic months begin — announced Wednesday that there had been no moon sighting in North America, and that it looked like Shawwal would begin on Friday.

But the committee reversed itself at 11:20 p.m. Wednesday, after sightings on the West Coast. It annually sponsors the Salaat al-Eid prayer/celebration in Skokie.

Samia Khan, 27, came with her children Kinza, 6, and Hynaida, 5, dressed alike in bright-pink shalwar kameez. She said she had been cooking all night and Thursday morning in preparation.

“Eid-al-Fitr means a lot to us. We have fasted and repented a whole month. We come to pray together, then go home to eat. I’ve made so many dishes, as I am expecting 16 to 18 people.”

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