Celebrating Eid in NYC: Looks from Hasan Minhaj, Ramy Youssef and More


Washington Square Park is known for its lively atmosphere and eclectic characters. That was no different on Wednesday morning, when hundreds of Muslims filled the park to attend a morning prayer gathering for Eid al-Fitr, the holiday that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

People celebrate Eid by getting dressed to the nines, which is why some jokingly refer to it as the Muslim Met Gala. Many came to Washington Square Park wearing colorful traditional garments like galabeyas, grand boubous, salwar kameez, thobes, kurtas and abayas, some of which were accessorized with opulent jewels or swipes of dark kajal eyeliner. Others chose more casual clothes — like the comic Ramy Youssef, who wore a hoodie and a green baseball cap.

On the morning of Eid, there are many large prayer gatherings throughout New York — in mosques, at high school football fields, on blocked-off streets. The prayer at the Lower Manhattan park, which took place beneath its Roman arch, is known for drawing a diverse crowd representative of the two billion Muslims globally. It is also known to attract notable people like Mr. Youssef as well as the comic Hasan Minhaj and the MSNBC anchor Ayman Mohyeldin, both of whom also attended.

The annual Eid al-Fitr gathering at Washington Square Park was started more than 10 years ago by leaders of the Islamic Center at N.Y.U. “We were just trying to conceptualize space that could fit our growing numbers and be a memorable experience,” said the center’s director, Imam Khalid Latif, who led this year’s prayer before giving a khutbah, or sermon.

“It can be very affirming knowing that in a city as large as New York, you’re not by yourself, you’re not alone,” Mr. Khalid added. “And it helps people also around us who we share space with, who are our neighbors, to know that we’re Muslim, and we are here as well.”

The prayer gathering’s first attendees started arriving at 7:30 a.m. Many quickly spotted friends and relatives, greeting them with cries of, “Eid mubarak,” or “blessed Eid,” as they embraced. By 9:15 a.m., people began making their way to the homes of loved ones, an Eid tradition known as house hopping that involves serving lots of food.

During the gathering, The New York Times spoke to attendees about their outfits, their favorite Eid memories and what inspired them to start the holiday at Washington Square Park.

Interviews have been edited.

Occupation: Artist

Age: 31

Heritage: Ghanaian

How did Eid inspire your outfit? I was inspired by God. God said it was going to be cloudy today. So I had to come out looking like the sun. That’s why I have on gold — I had to come and shine.

Age: 38

Heritage: Indian

Why did you come to this gathering? It is so spiritually moving to be with such a diverse group here at the iconic Washington Square park. To listen to Imam Khalid Latif’s khutbah, and just see the diversity in the community, is so touching and amazing.

Tell me about your outfit. Eid is the one time where we put on our best, most stylish clothes. It’s a day to flex a little bit. The whole family is matching: We’re all wearing tones of black and white with embroidery.

Occupations: Lawyer; finance associate; physician

Ages: 27; 26; 29

Heritage: Moroccan and Tunisian

How did Eid inspire your outfits?

ZEINAB BAKILLAH I’m wearing a traditional Tunisian outfit. We just dress up a little bit more on this holiday. I chose something that’s more traditional to embrace our culture.

ABDERRAHMAN BAKILLAH I’d say the same thing with the galabeya. We’re half Moroccan, half Tunisian.

EMNA BAKILLAH This dress belongs to my mom, who passed away five years ago. Every year on Eid, I try to wear something of hers. Every Eid, she was really good about getting the family all together.

Occupations: Journalist; retired pharmacist

Ages: 43; 78

Heritage: Bangladeshi

How did Eid inspire your outfits?

NARMEEN CHOUDHURY When I was in Bangladesh last summer, I thought about the upcoming Eid, because it’s so difficult sometimes to find outfits here in New York. I always think about something that’s reflective of our culture. And modesty, obviously, for when you’re praying.

What’s your favorite Eid memory?

ABDUL QUADIR CHOUDHURY I moved here in 1973. That Eid, we did the prayer in Manhattan; small, not that many Muslims. Now, so many Eid prayers.

Occupation: Graphic designer

Age: 27

Heritage: Sudanese

Tell me about your outfit. My mum got it for me, and Eid is all about family. I’m missing my mum today — she’s in Qatar. On the way here, on the train, I sat next to a girl who was clearly dressed for Eid as well. I said “Eid mubarak,” and we ended up walking over here together. That’s the beautiful thing about celebrating this day, is being around other people who also celebrate.

What’s your favorite Eid fashion memory? Probably this one: This is the first time that I tried to add my own touch to my outfit by bringing my own layering and fashion into it as well.

Occupation: N.Y.U. student

Heritage: Guinean

How did Eid inspire your outfit? This is actually a gift from my brother. This is a Moroccan thobe. He bought it a couple of months ago, but it’s inspired me to show out and embrace my culture.

What does this gathering mean to you? It means everything to me. It showcases a community that we’re still building. You can see bystanders walking by and saying: “Hey, this something that’s cool. I should look into this, probably.” So I think it just showcases that we’re not afraid to take pride in our religion.

Occupation: Dancer

Age: 23

Heritage: Guyanese

Tell me about your outfit. So last night I actually went to Jackson Heights because there’s always a big festival there. I got this kurta there. I got the kajal for today specifically. I don’t usually do a lot of makeup or anything like that. So this is kind of like the day that I get a little bit more fun with it. I used to wrap my head a lot back in the day. But I haven’t done it in a while.

What’s your favorite Eid memory? I was actually in Nazareth for Eid in 2019. And it was so beautiful. There were lights everywhere and children playing with toys.

Occupation: Sales

Age: 32

Heritage: Bangladeshi

How did Eid inspire your outfit? I wanted a modern take on our heritage: a tad bit of color, a bit of a different silhouette than what everybody else is wearing. Everybody’s looking so nice. It’s very refreshing.

Occupation: Student; biomedical engineer

Age: 19; 30

Heritage: Nigerian

What’s your favorite Eid fashion memory?

FATIMA ABBA Last year, I wore something that I didn’t think I would wear. I wore pink.

Occupation: Professor

Age: 35

Heritage: Senegalese

Tell me about your outfit. So this is a grand boubou from Senegal. It was actually my wedding evening dress as well.

What’s your plan for the rest of the day? We’re going to have a brunch, then we are going to host some people at my place nearby. And then, at 2 p.m., I’m teaching. I’m giving an exam to my students. At 5:30, I’m taking a flight to go to Duke to give a lecture there.

Occupation: Government affairs

Age: 40

Heritage: Pakistani

How did Eid inspire your outfit? When I was growing up, I was always taught that you should always look your best on Eid.

Why did you come to this gathering? It’s very diverse. It’s very accepting. And I wanted to be a part of that on this very special day.

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