Celebration Shows Growth And Diversity Of Vermont's Islamic Community
In Burlington today, Muslims celebrated the end of Ramadan with communal prayers and celebrations. This year’s celebration shows the growth and diversity of the Islamic community in Vermont.
Two thousand worshipers gathered at the Sheraton Hotel and Conference Center in Burlington to celebrate the end of Ramadan.
This marks the end of month-long period during which Muslims abstain from food and drink from dawn to sunset.
And it begins the Eid ul-Fitr or “feast of fast breaking” holiday, where Muslims exchange social visits and celebrate.
Farhad Khan is the vice president of theIslamic Society of Vermont. He says that large holiday gatherings like this one are especially important in a rural state like Vermont.
“In Vermont it’s especially important because we are such a small community,” said Khan. “And we are such an ethnically diverse community here.”
Khan says when his organization started in 1995, there were less than 100 Muslim families in the Chittenden County area. He says now there are over 1,000 families with around 3,500 people.
“Every few years we have a population explosion because some group of refugees will come to Vermont,” said Khan. “When Somalis came, that added a few thousand. When Bosnians came that added a huge amount of people. Then the Iraqis came, the Syrians are coming now.”
He credits Vermont’s Refugee Resettlement Program for that spike. And he says it’s unusual to see such an ethnically diverse community of Muslims worshipping together.
Typically that worship can be done at the Islamic Society’s mosque in Colchester, but for today’s celebration, the mosque’s 700-person capacity won’t be sufficient.