ORONO, Maine — The three-day celebration marking the end of Ramadan, the holiest month of the year in Islam, is always a joyous event.
For Muslims living in northern and eastern Maine, Eid al-Fitr was especially meaningful this year, and they rejoiced with a party Sunday afternoon at the Islamic Center of Maine.
The 8-month-old center, located at 151 Park St., was completed in mid-January at a cost of about $750,000. This year was the first time in at least a decade Muslims did not have to rent space to break their Ramadan fasts and celebrate.
“Most of our families have young children,” Jenan Jondy, the outreach coordinator for the center, said Sunday. “Today’s celebration was designed for the children.”
Activities included relay races, pony rides, a bounce house, pinata and volleyball and pingpong games in the center’s parking lot. More than 100 adults and children attended the event, which concluded with a community supper.
“This is really exciting for us,” said Jondy, 36, of Hampden. “Because the center is big enough to accommodate more than 100 people, it has encouraged more families from the local area to come to the mosque and participate.”
The new 5,600-square-foot center was constructed behind the first mosque built in the Bangor area — a 1,680-square-foot double-wide prefabricated building, completed in January 2002 at a cost of $125,000.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the year for followers of Muhammad, who observe a lunar calendar. The holiday takes place 13 days earlier each year according to the solar calendar. Ramadan began at sunrise Aug. 10 and ended with the sighting of the new moon Thursday night.
During Ramadan, all healthy adult Muslims abstain from food, drink, smoking and sexual activity from sunrise to sunset. The month is to be devoted to reflection and spiritual discipline, as well as the reading of the Quran, which was revealed to the prophet Muhammad by Allah during the final days of Ramadan.
Followers also are expected to perform good deeds and pray more often than the usual five times a day, including each evening in a mosque with other Muslims, if possible.
Dr. Samer Sbayi, president of the center, said Sunday he and his family had traveled nearly every day from their home in Lincoln to the mosque to take part in evening prayer services and other events during Ramadan. The surgeon said the fact that a mosque was less than an hour’s drive away played a major role in his decision to accept a position in Maine.
“It means we don’t have to move again,” said Sbayi, 40, who came to Maine two years ago from San Antonio, but is a native of Toronto. “This building has given us a strong foundation and will allow the community to grow spiritually together and enable us to engage the community around us.”
On Sunday, the new building and the 2 acres on which it’s situated also allowed families the space to party and eat as if they had been fasting for 30 days during the warm late-summer weather.
On the Web: www.theicmo.com.