ORONO, Maine — Colorful balloons and festive signs that declared, “Eid mubarik,” decorated the walls of the Islamic Center of Maine to mark the end of Ramadan.
Worshippers gathered Tuesday morning to pray and celebrate Eid al-Fitr, the feast days that begin after a month of fasting, prayer and study.
About 100 people, many of them students, gathered at the mosque on U.S. Route 2 in Orono just north of the entrance to the University of Maine. They greeted each other with the traditional salutation, “Eid mubarik,” which means “May God make it a blessed feast.” Others responded with “Eid karim” or “May God make it a kind feast.”
Ramadan is the ninth month of the year for the followers of Mohammed, who observe a lunar calendar. The holiday takes place 13 days earlier each year according to the solar calendar. Ramadan began at sunrise Sept. 1 and ended with the sighting of the new moon on Monday.
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 Mohammed 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.
Muslims believe fasting teaches patience and compassion and also earns them special favor with Allah. Any good deed done during Ramadan is amplified in the eyes of God.
Britney Harris, 20, of Brunswick observed her third Ramadan last month. She converted to Islam from Christianity about three years ago. The junior, who is majoring in child development, said that the rigors of Ramadan are rewarding but also challenging.
“It slows me down,” she said Tuesday. “I find that when I’m thinking about being hungry, I look at what I have and I take the things I have and cherish them more than I take them for granted. I see the things that I have every day and I appreciate them.”
Harris said that she found it was difficult to study during the afternoon while she was fasting, but enjoyed gathering at the mosque every evening at sundown for a meal with other Muslim students and community members.
“The whole experience of Ramadan is rewarding to me,” said Omar Conteh, 23, of Bangor. “I appreciate everything about it, from the spiritual experience to people being together, learning, teaching and advising each other.”
A student at University College of Bangor, Conteh has lived in Bangor for more than 10 years. He played soccer for Bangor High School before graduating.
“This year was the easiest Ramadan for me,” he said. “Maybe it is because I’ve gotten a little older, but it’s been a very pleasant Ramadan. I enjoyed it a lot.”
The Muslim community in Greater Bangor is flexible about when and where it observes the community feast day that marks the end of Ramadan. The mosque, a doublewide pre-fabricated building, is not large enough for the event since family, friends and people wanting to learn more about the faith attend.
This year, the Eid al-Fitr celebration party will be from 3 to 6 p.m. Sunday at the Isaac Farrar Mansion at Second and Union streets in Bangor. The public is invited.