Eid Festival brings together residents for Muslim celebration of peace, sharing


"All great religions encourage their followers to love their neighbors," Evergreen Park resident Samina Sundas said of the teaching most often expressed during the Thanksgiving and Christmas season. But "to love our neighbors, we must know our neighbors," she added.

This holiday season, Sundas is inviting her neighbors and any Palo Altan who would like to join in a celebration to make good on that idea. On Dec. 12, Sundas will host the Eid Festival, the Muslim celebration of spreading happiness and love all around, at Lucie Stern Community Center ballroom.

The festival will include a free gourmet Pakistani dinner, desserts from around the world, ethnic dress, henna art painting, Nasheed spiritual singing and a photo booth where people can have their picture taken dressed in ethnic attire.

American Muslim Voice Foundation, of which Sundas is the founding executive director, is sponsoring the festival. The City of Palo Alto is a co-sponsor through a $1,000 Know Your Neighbors grant.

Sundas said she hopes the festival will attract 200 people. She has sought to build a community culture of hope, inclusion and peace since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Each year she has held interfaith and intercultural dinners at her home, as well as workshops and events she calls "peace picnics."

Her goal, she said, is "to move people from fear to friendship."

The Eid festival (pronounced EEd) is a chance for people to experience Islamic culture, Sundas said. Formally called Eid ul-Fitr, the celebration takes place after Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting, prayer and introspection. At the end of Ramadan and before the Eid celebration begins, Muslims pay a small amount to charity, called Zakat-ul-Fitr, as a token of thankfulness to God for helping observe fasts and for purification from indecent acts or speech.

"People are required to give a special charitable donation to people who can't afford nice things, such as clothing and shopping money," she said. "Before you go to the mosque, you eat something, then go and pray. Then you hug each other three times and say, 'Happy Eid,'" she said. Celebrants return home to share food and exchange gifts and sweets for three days.

Although Eid does not traditionally fall around Christmas and Hanukkah -- in 2014 it began on July 28 -- Sundas hopes that introducing the celebration around the Christian and Jewish holidays will help people to see that Muslims also practice loving their neighbors.

At a time when extremists are spreading terror and hate, building that kind of understanding has become even more important to Sundas.

"Since 9/11, everyone thinks that Muslims are terrorists or are oppressed in hijabs," Sundas said, referring to the veil covering a woman's head and chest. But the Eid festival provides an opportunity to dispel such misinformation and the suspicion it brings.

In an online message to the community on American Muslim Voice's website, Sundas reflected on the healing power of understanding.

An "inclusive and beloved community ... transcends race, religion, ethnicity, or any other characteristic which may be used to divide us. We can achieve our dream of a peaceful world simply by getting to know each other. Ignorance breeds fear; knowledge and social contact will erase these unfounded fears against us," Sundas wrote.

And a network of support, "a chorus of peace in solidarity with a promise to stand by one another -- (is) the very definition of community," she added.

If You Go

What: Eid Festival

Where: Lucie Stern Community Center ballroom, 1305 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto

When: Friday, Dec. 12, 7-9:30 p.m.

Cost: Free, but RSVP is requested by emailing or registering here. In the sweets-giving tradition of Eid, everyone is welcome to bring a dessert to share.

Info: Go to

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5 people like this
Posted by Do What?
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 21, 2014 at 8:42 pm

[Post removed.]

7 people like this
Posted by Pat Burt
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 23, 2014 at 1:36 pm

Thank you for continuing to be a beacon for greater community understanding and community building. We look forward to joining you and your many friends.

6 people like this
Posted by Rational
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 23, 2014 at 1:38 pm

This is a great idea and I applaud Ms Sundas on sharing South Asian Islamic traditions. while culture and religion are intricately connected, one can participate in the former without subscribing to the later.

3 people like this
Posted by Christmas Is A Christian Holiday
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 23, 2014 at 2:31 pm

[Post removed.]

4 people like this
Posted by Rebecca Geraldi
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 23, 2014 at 6:37 pm

What a lovely idea - count us in!

5 people like this
Posted by Christmas Message
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 23, 2014 at 7:08 pm

The Christian Christmas message is Joy to the World, Peace on Earth, Goodwill to all men.

Thanksgiving is a time for being thankful for all we have and being content with what we have.

This should be the message we want to proclaim to all at this time.

2 people like this
Posted by village fool
a resident of another community
on Nov 23, 2014 at 7:12 pm

[Post removed.]

Like this comment
Posted by Stop the Trolls
a resident of Mountain View
on Nov 23, 2014 at 7:41 pm

[Post removed.]

6 people like this
Posted by winter dellenbach
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 24, 2014 at 11:42 am

We have been to this delicious celebration a couple years ago. We recommend it highly - I hope we can go this time. When we went it was in her front yard on a warm evening. Low key and very sweet and welcoming. A bunch of her neighbors came by. Her family prepared the festive traditional food - all kinds in great abundance. As a foodie, I was in heaven - it was so good. Friends of hers were there to talk people about questions they may have about Muslims and Eid. It is a wonderful, generous opportunity for us all.

Thank you Semina for giving us yet another way to celebrate the abundance given to us, and the peace and goodwill connecting us.

6 people like this
Posted by Sea Seelam REDDY
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 24, 2014 at 5:23 pm

Wish you all Eid Mubarak/celebration!


7 people like this
Posted by Samina Sundas
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 24, 2014 at 5:52 pm

My name is Samina Sundas and I am your host for the up coming Eid Festival. I would like to make an amendment to the article. All Palo Altans are invited along with everyone in the world who is interested in building a "Beloved Community and building peace" no matter where you live.

I am extending special invitation to my Palo Alto community members who posted negative comments and their comments are removed.

I do not blame you at all, I will be afraid of me if all I knew about Muslims and Islam, I heard on the news. That is why American Muslim Voice Foundation hosts events like these and that is why I have dedicated my whole life to beloved community building. Please give yourself and me a chance to know one another. That is the only way I know how we can build a better world, if not for us then for our next generations? Give peace and kindness a chance.

1 person likes this
Posted by adnan siddiqui
a resident of another community
on Nov 24, 2014 at 9:22 pm

Eid is an occasion of joy and happiness and people love to enjoy this special occasion particularly in India and Pakistan. In Pakistan both men and women wear beautiful clothes specially Shalwar Kameez. [Portion removed.]

2 people like this
Posted by polypaly
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 10, 2014 at 11:26 pm

Pretty cool!

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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