Sara Rebaine fits a hijab on a mannequin at the Eid Ul-Adha prayer and celebration event at Ottawa’s Civic Centre yesterday. Thousands of city Muslims attended the event that marks their biggest holiday of the year.


As Ottawa counts down to Christmas, a smaller group of citizens is celebrating its biggest religious holiday of the year this week.

Up to 80,000 Muslims in Ottawa and area marked the first day of Eid Ul-Adha yesterday.

“The Christians have Christmas, the Jews have Hanukkah and this is our holiday,” said Ottawa’s Mishal Ahmed.

The holiday is four days long and takes place on the day after the annual pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia by Muslims worldwide.

“It’s a day of appreciation and thanks, where we give to the poor and less fortunate,” said Mohamed Haroun, of the Ottawa chapter of the Muslim Association of Canada. “People visit the poor, their neighbours and family and exchange gifts of food and donations.”

About 7,000 people marked the event yesterday with prayers and a full-day celebration at the Ottawa Civic Centre.

Many local Muslims attended the event, which featured music, children’s activities, food and displays. The ensuing three days of the celebration are spent visiting friends and family.

The celebration is a chance for local Muslim children to meet their peers, said event volunteer Ahmed Khalil.

“It’s important to meet other people from the same community,” said Khalil. “This is all about community — regardless of race, colour and ethnic background — coming together.”

Eid Ul-Adha origins

  • A religious festival celebrated by 1.2-billion Muslims worldwide, Eid Ul-Adha is a commemoration of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son for Allah.