London hosted its annual Eid festival on Saturday with live performances, food, fashion, and art.
Thousands of Londoners and visitors to the capital headed to the free event in Trafalgar Square to sample music and food from around the world and take part in a variety of special activities – including testing their skills in Arabic art and geometry.
It was the capital's first Eid festival under Sadiq Khan, London's first Muslim mayor.
“Eid Mubarak to Muslims here in London and around the world. This year’s Ramadan has been one of the longest fasts in over 30 years," the London mayor said in a statement.
"Although it has been quite challenging," he continued, "I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the past month, my first Ramadan as the mayor of London. It has been a great opportunity to bring together London’s many communities – to me, that’s what Ramadan is all about.
Addressing the challenging political climate, particularly given the increase in hate crimes being reported after the Brexit vote, Khan said: “It is now more important than ever to unite as Londoners and extend our hands of friendship in light of the EU referendum, the recent surge in hate crime and the terrible atrocities in Istanbul.
"I encourage Londoners from all backgrounds and visitors to the city to come together at this year’s Eid festival to celebrate the diversity and tolerance that is at the heart of our great city. It is set to be one of the best yet, with a brilliant line-up of performances, food and Islamic culture. Eid Mubarak!”
Thousands of people were gathered as Khan took to the stage. He took a mass group selfie and said he would be sending it to Democratic US presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau.
In his speech he said: "My message is simple – London is the greatest city in the world and you are welcome here."
He wished the crowd Eid Mubarak, adding: "This Ramadan, let's be honest, it's been hard. Fasting for 19 hours has been hard. I will never forget this Ramadan."
Festivalgoers sat on the steps of Trafalgar Square, enjoying the bursts of sunshine while tucking into kebabs or noodles and listening to the live music, or taking selfies by the fountains.
Mahir, from Ilford, wore huge comic ears on her head as she helped out on the stall for Bollywood Booths, her family's business. There was a queue of people in a variety of silly hats, traditional caps, and oversized glasses waiting in line to take photos.
"It's been quite busy and loads of people want their picture taken in front of the tuk-tuk, which was imported from India and was my dad's idea," she said. "Though everyone has photo booths this is more original, and people want it at events and weddings."
The festival was also celebrating the achievements and contribution of Muslim women. Maria was selling traditional handmade table runners and blankets from Karachi in Pakistan. "Not many people know about the positive and creative side of Pakistan," she said. "So I wanted to promote the hard work women in villages do – work that takes months to make, and is embedded in the culture and history."
She said her favourite item was a handcrafted wooden basket and said: "We're from Pakistan, a Muslim country, so we wanted to celebrate Eid with everyone here."
Siddiqa Ajuma, an artist originally from Zanzibar, told BuzzFeed News about her latest interactive work, "Make Your Mark", in which she invites participants to add a dot of paint to her canvas, depicting dotted flowers among a "green and pleasant land".
"I've been painting seriously for nine years and my work is to do with unity and diversity, and my inspiration is Mecca, where it doesn't matter if you are rich or poor," Ajuma said in front of an array of abstract and geometric paintings.
More information on the Eid festival can be found here.
Aisha Gani is a senior reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Aisha Gani at email@example.com.
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