Eid al-Fitr Festival, Day 1, in Full Swing at Anaheim Promenade

Eid fest - road closed

“Soon, as the road became impassable, in the distance I saw tents, with many people milling around sharing food, music, live performances, and selling their wares.” — From the “Book of Made-Up Middle-Eastern Travel Narratives”

It’s festival time in Anaheim — again, but also for the first time — at Anaheim’s inaugural festival celebrating the end of Ramadan, Eid al-Fitr, the first day in a month that observant Muslims are allowed to eat and drink during daylight hours.  (It’s very nice to see the City’s “Little Arabia” residents getting their due.  About time!)  A throng of people have been out at the Anaheim Promenade today making the most of it.

Let’s start with their press release:

2013 is the inaugural year of the biggest Two-day Eid Festival in Anaheim, California. The Eid festival will have everything to celebrate the spirit of Eid, insha’Allah.

Food ~ Fun ~ Games ~ Bazaar ~ Entertainment ~ More!

FREE Admission! Free Parking in structures off Oak Street.

All-Day ride pass: $25; Henna art starting at $5

The festival will provide a unique opportunity for children to experience a true sense of Eid!

This festival is taking place in the heart of Anaheim. Downtown Anaheim is located south of Lincoln Avenue and east of Harbor Boulevard at the intersection of Lemon Street and Center Street Promenade.

(If the word “Insha’Allah throws you, you might benefit from translating it: “God willing.”)

My family and I got their relatively early, to be sure to arrive before the falafel and shwarma ran out — it turns out that should not have been a serious concern — to check it out and eat and decide whether we want to come back again today or tomorrow to eat there again.  (We do.)

The festival started at 10:00 today, will run until 9:00 tonight — and then the same 11-hour party happens all over again tomorrow.  The prime hours for live entertainment appear to be between 6 and 8 p.m., so if that is your thing — and why not? — you may want to schedule your visit around then.  That means that if you read OJB stories immediately, just as soon as they are posted — and why not? — you still have time to get out there today before the evenings performances begin.

If not, then be there late — but be there!

Here are some of the sights that I saw during my time there earlier today:

Eid fest - CAIR & balloons

CAIR, the Council of American Islamic Relations, was there with balloons; the Orange is presumably for OC and the blue is … for contrast?  Here, a woman checks out coffee mugs and more.

Eid fest  - pottery & books

Some of the wares on sale. The pottery causes me to emit the sound of Homer Simpson when presented with donuts.

Eid fest - crowds strolling

By early afternoon, the number of people strolling around had picked up nicely.  Here, I am being eyed warily.

One of my personal missions for the day was to come up with the definitive ruling on how to pronounce the word “Eid.”  (I already know “al-Fitr” is pronounced — in a way that I can’t manage, so I don’t worry about that.)  As a fellow Semite, I know the pain of having one’s holiday’s mispronounced: our Jewish New Year (coming up soon!), Rosh Ha Shanah, is usually pronounced by non-Jews as “ROASH-uh SHUN-un” rather than properly “ROASH hah shahNAH”; and our follow-up holiest day is mangled from the proper “YOME kih-POOR” into “YOMM kipper.”  (Khanukah, no one can even spell.  Fuhgeddabowdit.)

So I want to be culturally sensitive — but I’ve heard “Eid” pronounced at least three ways by people who I have figured ought to know: “Eed,” to rhyme with “reed”; “Aid,” to rhyme with “paid,” and “I’d,” to rhyme with “side.”  So I went out in search of anyone I knew there — who would not be offended by my potentially offensive action because they would have learned to judge me by low standards — to get the truth.

I practiced first on the young woman who sold me my quite delightful $4 falafal.  “It’s ‘Aid,'” she told me.  Good!  Problem solved!  But just to confirm, I thought that I should ask my friend Anaheim School Board member Al Jabbar.  I even prepared a multiple choice chart for him.

Eid fest - Al Jabbar, 1 finger

Extremely good-natured, although perhaps unwise to talk to me about this, Al Jabbar makes his initial choice.

I told Al that the nice young falafel vendor had told me that the correct answer was the second one, and that as someone on a school board it was pretty much his responsibility to go over their to set her straight.  Ever the congenial politician, Al demurred, letting me know that he was going over to Santa Monica for “Sri Lanka Day” — Al is the first Sri Lankan elected official in the U.S., although not in the world, given Sri Lanka itself — and that at any rate he thought that given vowel complexity and dialects it was legitimate to choose either answer.  Hence, this:

Eid fest - Al Jabbar, 2 fingers

Smooooooth. This guy is really smooth. Turns out that he’s also correct.  It’s sort of either and both.

(Parts of that explanation above are, sadly, made up.)  Al did a tremendous amount of work, as did many others, in setting up this event, so I shouldn’t be trivializing it in this way, but that’s how I roll.  And he seemed happy enough to endure me, as things are going well.  So I figured that I’d go bother another friend on site, Iyad Afalqa.  Iyad is just a bit player in today’s story, but tomorrow he gets star billing — supported by a very unexpected special guest.

Iyad agreed with Al’s initial assessment.

Eid fest - Iyad Afalqa, 1 finger

Also unfailingly polite to me, Iyad picks his rhyme: “reed.”

Soon after, Iyad was having a conversation with someone and welcomed them to the “AID” festival.  I jumped all over him and together we worked out what seems to be the truth: it sounds like the name for the numeral “eight” (with the “t” at the end of course changed to a “d”) but with the vowel stretched out a bit.  The long “A” sound in English, after all, can be decomposed into a short “eh” followed by a long “EEE,” just as the long “I” sound can be decomposed into a short “ah” followed by a long “EEE” — you had no idea that this article was going to end up teaching you that when you started reading, did you??? — so the vowel in “Eid” is a stretched out long “A” with a little break in the middle — sort of like “ehh-eeed”

See, before you knew that you might have had some hesitation going to the Eid festival for fear of sounding like some Orange County yokel.  But now, armed with this knowledge, you can go.  And, again, you really should.  (Did I mention the falafel?)

Tomorrow: what Iyad was doing at the festival — and why it’s so massively cool!

About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-retired due to disability, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally runs for office against bad people who would otherwise go unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Corrupt party hacks hate him. He's OK with that too. He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)