On Saturday, Sept. 24, the South Asian Association of Maine (SAAM) celebrated Eid-Ul-Adha with games and food at the Orono Methodist Church from 6 to 9 p.m. Eid-Ul-Adha, also known as the “Sacrifice Feast,” is celebrated worldwide and is considered one of the more holy religious events for those celebrating the Muslim faith. This was the organization’s second time hosting this event.
When discussing Eid-Ul-Adha, SAAM explained that their event was meant to celebrate the fact that on this night, “no matter who you are, you have each other, and all differences are dispelled so everyone is equal in society.” Eid-Ul-Adha is occasionally called the Sacrifice Feast because it commemorates Allah’s order to sacrifice an animal instead of the prophet Abraham’s son.
SAAM ran into scheduling issues, ultimately having to celebrate Eid-Ul-Adha later than expected, during parent-student weekend. At 6 p.m., turnout was fairly low, but by 7:30 p.m., the event was lively and full of people talking, eating and having fun. The event was full of students but also professors and local South Asian families. “We have a lot of families that come from the surrounding areas because it’s the only Asian organization in, I’d say, the middle part of Maine. We have a large gathering of families and faculty [that celebrate with us],” Shirly Stephen, the vice president of SAAM, explained. Children ran around with balloons. People joked about the food and students talked with previous teachers.
Although this was a religious holiday for some organizers and attendees, the event welcomed everyone. “I have a lot of friends that are Indian. You always see a part of a different culture and you can come together and socialize with great food,” an undergraduate at the University of Maine said. Complete with delicious food such as chicken curry, vegetable cutlets, daal and more, people came together to talk with one another and play games. Winners for the child’s, men’s and women’s rounds of musical chairs each received an unique prize, while those who participated were offered ice cream.
Like the attendants, many of the organizers felt as though sharing culture is important. “We are a SAAM organizing event, and we wish to share out joys and meet other people from here as well,” a graduate student who helped organize the event said. “It helps us feel better away from home.”
“Our [SAAM’s] objective is to share our culture. We like to collaborate with others,” Stephen said. SAAM has been known to collaborate with the University of Maine Multicultural Center and other cultural groups on campus, and they plan to host two international coffee hours this year, one each semester. They are also officially recognized by the University of Maine’s Student Government, which helps fund their organization. “We really appreciate their help in organizing this event,” Stephen said.
SAAM represents countries located in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), otherwise known separately as Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Food from all of these backgrounds, not just Indian, was present. In addition, Eid-Ul-Adha is not the only celebration that SAAM puts on. The Color Festival will occur outside on Oct. 1, weather permitting. As for potluck events, Diwali, the Festival of Lights, is put on by SAAM in November. Everyone, regardless of background, is encouraged to come to these events that are put on by SAAM, who have a Facebook page with updates on all upcoming SAAM events happening on and around the University of Maine campus.