Ramadan came and went but we hope its meaningful activities at the museum will stay with our visitors. This year visitors took part in our Iftar feast for those in need, created lanterns that many children in the Middle East carry during the nights of Ramadan and learned about the moon phases and their relation to Ramadan. At the beginning of Ramadan families pour into the streets seeking the new moon; when they see the first sliver, Ramadan has begun.
Ramadan is an important month for Muslims all over the world. During this time Muslims give up both food and water from dawn to sunset and try to focus on self-improvement and discipline. Similarly, an important component of Ramadan is helping those in need and giving more to your community. During our Ramadan activities we displayed traditional clothes from Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as prayer mats. A quiet, welcoming reading area with children’s stories about Ramadan encouraged families to sit down and read together.
To create the Iftar (evening meal eaten during Ramadan) visitors were given a paper plate on which they could paste pictures of countless delicious foods from magazines. Many visitors took the time to create a delicious plate filled with rice, meat, vegetables and even desserts. After finishing the plate, they brought their completed “meal” to the Iftar picnic cloth spread across the floor. The cloth also included dishes of pretend food from some of our exhibits. At the end of the activity we had more than 101 plates.
I have to say, as someone that experienced Ramadan in Afghanistan and Pakistan as a child, the Iftar meal activity created an amazing feeling in me as I was surrounded by so many plates. More importantly, as I sat around the plates, I remembered that beyond the differences, what we share – the commitment to caring for the needy and to making a difference – is evident in each of us.