Celebrating Eid in New York: Looks from Hasan Minhaj, Ramy Youssef and more

Washington Square Park is known for its lively atmosphere and eclectic characters. It was no different Wednesday morning, when hundreds of Muslims filled the park to attend an early morning prayer meeting for Eid al-Fitr, the holiday that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

People celebrate Eid by dressing up, which is why some jokingly call it the Muslim Met Gala. Many came to Washington Square Park wearing colorful traditional attire such as galabeyas, grand boubous, salwar kameez, thobes, kurtas and abayas, some of which were accessorized with opulent jewelry or strokes of dark kajal eyeliner. Others chose more casual attire, like comedian Ramy Youssef, who wore a hoodie and green baseball cap.

On the morning of Eid, there are many large prayer gatherings throughout New York – in mosques, on high school football fields, on blocked streets. The prayer in the Lower Manhattan park, which took place under its Roman arch, is known for attracting a diverse crowd, representative of the two billion Muslims globally. It is also known for attracting famous people such as Mr. Youssef, comedian Hasan Minhaj and MSNBC host Ayman Mohyeldin, both of whom are in attendance.

The annual Eid al-Fitr gathering in Washington Square Park was started more than 10 years ago by leaders of the Islamic Center of New York University. “We were just trying to conceptualize a space that could accommodate our growing numbers and be a memorable experience,” said the center's director, Imam Khalid Latif, who led this year's prayer before holding a khutbah , or sermon.

“It can be very positive to know that in a city as big as New York you are not alone, you are not alone,” Khalid added. “And it also helps the people around us who we share space with, who are our neighbors, to know that we are Muslims, and that we are here too.”

The first participants of the prayer meeting began to arrive at 7:30 am. Many quickly spotted friends and relatives, greeting them with shouts of “Eid mubarak” or “blessed Eid,” as they hugged each other. At 9.15am, people began heading to the homes of loved ones, an Eid tradition known as house hopping that involves serving lots of food.

During the meeting, The New York Times spoke to attendees about their outfits, their favorite Eid memories and what inspired them to start the holiday in Washington Square Park.

The interviews have been edited.

Occupation: Artist

Age: 31

Inheritance: Ghanaian

How did Eid inspire your outfit? I was inspired by God. God said today would be cloudy. So I had to go out looking like sunshine. That's why I have gold: I had to come and shine.

Age: 38

Inheritance: Indian

Why did you come to this meeting? It's so spiritually moving to be with such a diverse group here in the iconic Washington Square park. Hearing Imam Khalid Latif's khutbah and seeing the diversity in the community is so touching and amazing.

Tell me about your outfit. Eid is the only time when we wear our best and most elegant clothes. It's a day to flex a little. The whole family is coordinated: we wear all shades of black and white with embroidery.

Occupations: Lawyer; financial collaborator; doctor

Age: 27; 26; 29

Inheritance: Moroccan and Tunisian

How has Eid inspired your outfits?

ZEINAB BAKILLAH I am wearing a traditional Tunisian dress. We dress up a little more this holiday. I chose something more traditional to embrace our culture.

ABDERRAHMAN BAKILLAH I would say the same thing with galabeya. We are half Moroccan and half Tunisian.

EMNA BAKILLAH This dress belongs to my mother, who died five years ago. Every year during Eid, I try to wear something by her. Every Eid, she was really good at bringing the family together.

Occupations: Journalist; retired pharmacist

Age: 43; 78

Inheritance: Bangladesh

How has Eid inspired your outfits?

NARMEEN CHOUDHURY When I was in Bangladesh last summer, I thought about the upcoming Eid, because sometimes it's so hard to find clothes here in New York. I always think of something that reflects our culture. And modesty, of course, for when you pray.

What is your favorite Eid memory?

ABDUL QUADIR CHOUDHURY I moved here in 1973. That Eid, we had prayers in Manhattan; small, not so many Muslims. Now, so many prayers for Eid.

Occupation: Graphic

Age: 27

Inheritance: Sudanese

Tell me about your outfit. My mum got it for me and Eid is a family matter. I miss my mom today: she is in Qatar. On my way here, on the train, I sat next to a girl who was clearly also dressed for Eid. I said “Eid Mubarak” and finally we came here together. The great thing about celebrating this day is being with other people who celebrate.

What is your favorite Eid fashion memory? Probably this: This is the first time I've tried to add my own touch to my outfit while also incorporating my own layering and fashion.

Occupation: Student at New York University

Inheritance: Guinean

How did Eid inspire your outfit? This is actually a gift from my brother. This is a Moroccan thobe. He bought it a couple of months ago, but he inspired me to show off and embrace my culture.

What does this meeting mean to you? It means everything to me. It shows a community we are still building. You can see bystanders walking by and saying, “Hey, that's something that's cool. I should look into this, probably. So I think it just shows that we're not afraid to be proud of our religion.

Occupation: Dancer

Age: 23

Inheritance: Guyana

Tell me about your outfit. So last night I went to Jackson Heights because there's always a big festival there. I have this Kurta there. I got the kajal especially for today. I don't usually wear a lot of makeup or anything like that. So it's kind of like the day I have a little more fun. In the past I used to wrap my head around a lot. But I haven't done it in a while.

What is your favorite Eid memory? I was actually in Nazareth for Eid in 2019. And it was so beautiful. There were lights everywhere and children playing with toys.

Occupation: Sales

Age: 32

Inheritance: Bangladesh

How did Eid inspire your outfit? I wanted a modern take on our heritage: a little color, a silhouette that was a little different than what everyone else is wearing. They are all so cute. It's very refreshing.

Occupation: Student; biomedical engineer

Age: 19; 30

Inheritance: Nigerian

What is your favorite Eid fashion memory?

FATIMA ABBA Last year I wore something I didn't think I would wear. I wore pink.

Occupation: Professor

Age: 35

Inheritance: Senegalese

Tell me about your outfit. So this is a grand boubou from Senegal. It was actually my wedding evening dress too.

What's your plan for the rest of the day? We'll have a brunch and then host some people at my house nearby. And then, at 2pm, I teach. I'm giving an exam to my students. At 5:30 I take a flight to Duke to give a lecture there.

Occupation: Government business

Age: 40

Inheritance: Pakistani

How did Eid inspire your outfit? When I was growing up, I was always taught that you should always look your best during Eid.

Why did you come to this meeting? It's very diverse. He is very accepting. And I wanted to be a part of it on this very special day.

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