BBC News 2 May 2021

The annual Grand Iftar community event in Bristol will be held virtually this year due to coronavirus restrictions. Iftar is the breaking of fast each evening at sunset, during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

The 2019 Grand Iftar saw thousands of people line the streets of Easton to break fast – and was the last time the event was held in person.

Volunteers will be distributing food around the city on Sunday and a special online event will take place on Sunday. This year’s virtual Iftar will feature video messages from imams, scholars and religious leaders around the city, reflecting on the tradition of fasting, and will have video messages from the community. Ornithologist Mya-Rose Craig will also be taking part in a discussion about the environment, community and faith.

In 2019, Bristol Sweet Mart head chef, Tehseen Majothi, prepared 2,000 meals for the Grand Iftar, in pots “so huge” she could “literally sit in them”. This year however, because of restrictions, Mrs Majothi will be cooking 170 meals that will be donated to a domestic violence charity. Mrs Majothi said Iftar was a holistic cleansing process of reflection and fasting from vital things such as food and drink is a “humbling experience” to make you realise what it is like for those who have nothing. “There’s this whole sense of bringing people together and something to look forward to as a community, it brings people from all sorts of backgrounds,” Mrs Majothi added.

Arif Khan, the chair of the Council of Bristol Mosques, said the virtual event this year will mean that although people are far apart “we can bring them online as well as if we are together. It’s what we can do during these difficult and testing times and we have to follow the government guidelines… and at least in this Ramadan… we are allowed to go into the mosques and carry on with our individual prayers and break our fast inside the mosques, which we could not do last year,” he said. He added “cannot wait” for the Grand Iftar event to return to normal next year: “We would like to see thousands of people, people of different faiths, no faith, and the Muslim community all getting together and breaking the fast together, there’s no better feeling.”

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