Eid Al Fitr occurs this year at a time when millions of people in Pakistan are coping with some of the worst flooding ever seen in the region.
While Roza (Fasting from dawn to dusk), in part, provides an opportunity to reflect on the plight of those less fortunate than we are, the suffering of those caught in the floods and those who have suffered enormous loss will be uppermost in the minds of Muslims all over the world.
Our thoughts and prayers are for those who are coping with the tremendous damage that has been caused by the floods and for the families who have lost their loved ones.
For all Muslims therefore, the Holy month of Ramadan took a special significance this year and all New Zealanders will want to associate themselves with our communities and friends at this time.
The Holy Month of Ramadan is also a time for reflection and introspection.
Muslims who have made New Zealand their home will no doubt be turning their minds to their homelands and to the ones they left behind.
It is also an opportunity to reflect on their new homes in New Zealand and to acquaint those who are not familiar with Ramadan and the ensuing Eid celebrations.
I grew up in Fiji with Muslim neighbours. We were aware of the importance of Ramadan and that of fasting. We would look forward to Eid and take part in the celebrations as much as our neighbours did with us during Diwali and Christmas.
Cultural and religious events reflect our uniqueness as well as our similarities as individuals and communities.
Every day has a special meaning for some religious or cultural group.
I celebrate the fact that modern day New Zealand encourages us all to mark these occasions because this gives greater meaning to our diversity and accrues unity.
The Muslim community in New Zealand is significant and they make an important contribution to the economic and social fabric of our society.
They have come from many different countries and cultures.
I admire their special sense of community and their strong faith.
Soon the Holy Month of Ramadan will gently give way to Eid celebrations in all Muslim homes. I look forward to visiting a number of my Muslim friends and enjoying a bowl of ‘Seviyan,’ my favourite Eid dish.
This is a time of visitation amongst friends and family.
It is also a time of forgiveness and new beginnings.
I doubt if all New Zealanders would be familiar with Eid like the readers of this newspaper. This is a great opportunity for them to be introduced to the importance of Ramadan and Eid.
I encourage those who are able to do this to do so.
There is a great need in Pakistan at the moment and I encourage everyone to give their ‘zakat’ for the relief of this devastation to a number of collections that are under way.
But most of all, I offer Eid Mubarak to Indian Newslink readers and to all those in the community.
DR Rajen Prasad is a Member of Parliament on Labour List and is the Party’s Associate Spokesman for Ethnic Affairs. Read related report in this section.