Birmingham Muslims gather for festive Ramadan bazaar ahead of Eid celebrations
Muslims from across Birmingham descended on Sparkbrook this weekend for an Eid shopping extravaganza, ahead of festive celebrations, as Ramadan begins to wind down this week.
With around 5 days left for the holy month of fasting to complete, Muslim families were treated to a fun day at Piccadilly Banqueting Suite in Stratford Road, Birmingham, where a vast range of gifts, sweets, cakes, clothes, toys and jewellery were on show alongside cartoon mascots and a large indoor bouncing castle for kids.
Organised by local charity ISRA UK, the free bazaar was held to provide local residents an opportunity to buy and sell goods to ease cost-of-living struggles, and to also allow members of the public to fundraise for good causes, including appeals for Turkey, Syria, Yemen, Uganda and Pakistan.
An excited stream of visitors popped into the Sparkhill venue where around 20 stalls showcased South Asian and Middle Eastern delicacies and snacks, traditional clothes including abayas, hijabs and evening wear; make-up and accessories, perfumes, Eid cards and party cakes.
Larger-than-life mascots of popular Islamic cartoon characters Omar & Hanna were on hand to entertain children at the family-friendly event, as queues formed for henna hand painting in preparation for Eid al-Fitr celebrations, expected to begin on Friday.
ISRA UK volunteer Tabassum Bibi helped organise the event and hopes it brings festive cheer to families during difficult times.
“It’s an Eid bazaar for the local community. It’s a free event, just to give them a safe space to come and have a day out.
“It was free entrance for everyone, so with prices going up amid the current cost of living crisis, we wanted to make it affordable for everyone. It also supports independent local businesses who might be struggling in this financial climate.
“We have stalls of a variety – abayas, clothing, perfumes, make-up, food stalls, and we also have a bouncing castle.
“ISRA UK is supporting this event to help the local community while continuing to collect donations for the victims of the Turkey and Syria earthquake.
“Even though times are hard for many here, it’s even more difficult for people struggling in disaster-stricken zones in Asia, Africa and other parts of the world. Ramadan is a time for charity and this Eid, Muslims from Birmingham are continuing to share and give what they can.”
Among the many food stalls at the bazaar, generously iced cakes and sickly sweet treats were in high demand.
Akeel Akbar, who owns Teasers Desserts in Erdington, snapped up the opportunity to prepare fresh milk cakes and brownies for the celebratory fair.
“Today we’re selling hedgehog cakes, cheesecakes, nachos, doughnuts, waffle sticks; all of these are made fresh, they are made by family members and other small businesses in Erdington. We’re here to support other businesses and to help get our name out there.
“Our business has been established for about two months now. It’s run by myself and my cousin and our workers are family members. Our aim is to expand and become the number one dessert shop in Birmingham.
“We thought it was a good opportunity to be here, it’s a good community, we’ve all been born and bred up here. Our workers have all been raised in Sparkbrook so we thought it would be good for us.”
Maryam who creates her own unique cakes for La Vie en Bake has a loyal client base but wanted to do more to help charity during the special month.
“I’ve got a range of mixed cakes, I usually make custom cakes, fondant cakes, birthday cakes and stuff like that.
“Not many people do home-made macarons and I specialise in those, so that’s what I’m kind of pushing as well as the other stuff, but I think definitely the macarons give me the uniqueness.
“I’ve done a lot of work with ISRA UK and I’ve got a lot of family involved as well, and I’ve done stuff with them since I was really young, so it made sense to be part of this. I’ve been doing some Ramadan boxes and donating too.
“My mum’s actually going on a deployment to Turkey in June too so I’m trying to help her out during Ramadan too.”
Yasmin Askar owns Dressline UK, an evening clothing brand offering handmade exquisite luxury gowns, featuring intricate designs inspired by cross-cultural embroidered motifs and patterns.
“We specialise in evening clothing, modest dresses, abayas and kaftans as well. We’re hoping to open up a store in Birmingham very soon.
“We’re here to raise funds for the ISRA charity and 15% of our proceeds will go to Yemen. Events like this allow us to meet new people, for communities to come together and help good causes.”
During Ramadan, many Muslims have been fasting during daylight hours – from dusk to sunset – focusing on self-reflection and God, while refraining from food, drink, smoking and other worldly pleasures.
During the month, a time for charitable work, ISRA UK have been providing food packs and aid to families and villages across the world but especially in Turkey and Syria, where earthquakes since February have killed an estimated 55,000 people and impacted hundreds of thousands more.
The Birmingham-based organisation has additionally sent teams of volunteers to the region to assist with food and shelter provisions and are continuing to do so during Ramadan and the upcoming Eid period.
Eid al-Fitr will be announced for British Muslims at the end of this week based on a sighting of the crescent moon. The festival, which concludes Ramadan, is expected to take place on Friday 21 April.