Festival to mark Islamic holiday

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The Naugatuck Cultural Council is holding the borough's first public Eid al-Adha festival Saturday on the Town Green. -FILE PHOTO
The Naugatuck Cultural Council is holding the borough’s first public Eid al-Adha festival Saturday on the Town Green. -FILE PHOTO

NAUGATUCK — When Shagufta Zahid immigrated to the borough six years ago from Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, she and her husband had a hard time finding traditional furniture and handicrafts for their Mulberry Street house.

That experience gave her the idea of holding a festival to introduce Americans to Islamic culture.

“This is human nature,” said Zahid, 42. “We want to be recognized wherever we are.”

Zahid joined the Naugatuck Cultural Council and helped the group organize the borough’s first public Eid al-Adha festival, which will be held Saturday on the Green from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The festival is free to attend.

Eid al-Adha is the most important holiday in the Islamic calendar. It celebrates the end of Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca, and the willingness of the prophet Abraham to sacrifice his firstborn son for God.

The festival will feature a disc jockey playing traditional music from Saudi Arabia, Albania and other predominantly Muslim countries. A Libyan group will perform traditional music live and children will be able to participate in a magic show and bounce house. Ali Baba’s Fusion, a New Haven restaurant, will sell gyros and other halal food.

Vendors will be selling work and handicrafts from Muslim countries, including clothing, jewelry and henna tattoos.

Mayor Robert Mezzo and Omer Bajwa, the Muslim chaplain at Yale University, will speak.

Zahid, who works for Weichert Realtors, said she expects more than 400 people to attend the festival, including some from New York and Massachusetts.

Zahid said the borough has few Muslims and many residents do not understand her culture, but she has not experienced discrimination.

“Everyone is so good, open-minded,” Zahid said. “Sometimes it looks odd if I am going to do traditional things outside in public, because people don’t know.”