Ramadan Festival for all to share

Neil El-Kadomi with his daughter Sumaia and grand-children Mera, Mahmoud, Malak and Mays Issa at his family home in Woodpark. Picture: Geoff Jones

Neil El-Kadomi with his daughter Sumaia and grand-children Mera, Mahmoud, Malak and Mays Issa at his family home in Woodpark. Picture: Geoff Jones

Sydney's first Ramadan Festival will take place at Blacktown's Bowman Hall on July 19, with the community celebration open to people of all backgrounds.

One of the event's organisers, Sarwat Hassan, encouraged all to attend the first Ramadan Festival, which will also include satellite events at Auburn and Campsie.

"This is the first time we're organising the Ramadan Festival in Sydney," Ms Hassan said. "The Ramadan month is for the community, the "ummah", to bring people together."

Ms Hassan encouraged all to attend the free family day, which will include stalls with fashion, jewellery, clothing, food, henna and face painting.

"It's a good opportunity to see what Ramadan is all about and at the same time enjoy the amusements, the rides, the stalls with clothes and jewellery and have a good time with your fellow community members from Blacktown."

Ms Hassan said the festival was organised to "open up" and share Ramadan with more people, with Blacktown chosen as one of the first locations due to its high multicultural population.

"It's breaking down those barriers between people," she said. "Our aim is to have this event in different suburbs across NSW in the future."

This week, Muslims across western Sydney are preparing for the Islamic holy month, including Woodpark family the El-Kadomis.

For approximately 30 days from before sunrise on Saturday, father of seven and grandfather of 16, Neil El-Kadomi and his family will forgo food and water each day from dawn until dusk.

After the sun has set, they will break their fast with prayers and a serving of food known as "iftar", which can take place in the home or in a mosque.

"Fasting is for the rich to feel what the poor feel," said Mr El-Kadomi, 68, who is chairman of the Parramatta Islamic Cultural Association.

"It gathers people together, to have iftar together. We talk to each other and get closer to God."

In 2001, there were a greater number of practising Muslims in Sydney than in Australia as a whole, with 3.4 per cent in Sydney and 1.5 per cent country-wide. In 2001, 1.5 per cent of Australia's population were Muslim, up from 1.1 per cent in 1996.

As of the 2011 census, Blacktown local government area had a total 17,501 people who identified as Muslim.

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