According to a 2011 census there are 2.8 million muslims in the UK, whereof 1.012.800 live in London. That makes Islam London’s largest minority religion and many muslims are concentrated in East London in the borough of Tower Hamlets, which is our neck of the woods.
I absolutely love what that means for the area; loads of shops with vast varieties of (to me) exotic fruit, vegetables, spices, and chutneys. Bangla-cuisine take away places and the most delicious sweet shops. And loads of clothing shops selling colourful and amazing Sarees and Salwar Kameez. I enjoy browsing these, secretly wishing I could wear this type of clothing every day! It is the complete opposite to the very black, very simple style of fashion we wear in Scandinavia. I have to admit that I am quite fascinated by the often bright and sometimes crazy combinations of colours, the extensive use of laces and pearls, and the feminine shapes. (Luckily I have a few outfits in my wardrobe from when we went to Bangladesh on our honeymoon, however I seem to never find the right occasion to wear them here in the UK…).
Anyways – back to topic; today is Eid al-Fitr which marks the end of Ramadan, the month of fasting. We couldn’t avoid noticing that celebrations were taking place in the neighbourhood, so we thought we’d hit the streets to see what was going on.
The area was packed with people who were all dressed up for the occasion. Lots of the shops were closed, as well as most of the market stalls, that usually line up along Whitechapel Road. Families were out for lunch and the lovely smell of chargrilled meat and spices was in the air. Big groups of teenage boys clad in panjabi were gathered in clusters on the street corners, chatting and laughing. Many of them wearing sunglasses matching their outfits – it was clear that they had spent quite a lot of time in front of the mirror before leaving the house today! And all the men were looking very dapper in their shiny and decorated outfits. The kids were dressed in equally colourful clothes and quite a few of the small boys were dressed in panjabis matching their dad’s. Super cute!
Young women were strolling around in groups of two or three giggling with their girlfriends, taking in the atmosphere and showing off their outfits. No doubt, they had spent even longer in front of the mirrors than their brothers! We saw many of them having small photo shoots, taking pictures of each other and doing selfies. Obviously when we asked them for permission to take their picture for a blog post on Eid Fashion, most of them were slightly honoured and were happy to do a small pose. Don’t they just look lovely?
Should you wish to take part in the Eid celebrations, there will be a large Eid Festival in Trafalgar Square next Saturday, July 25th from 12pm to 6pm. Highlights will include a food festival, where you can sample Egyptian, Indonesian, Lebanese, Turkish, Arabic, and Malaysian food just to name a few. I am sure there will be lots of people dressed to impress!
Visited July 2015