CALIFORNIA – Combining halal food festival with `Eid celebrations, California Muslims are planning a special event next week, offering halal food in open air with a special carnival for `Eid celebrations and musical performances.
“I got the idea after I visited New York City,” Irfan Rydhan of San Jose, 38, a self-described “halal foodie” and American Muslim activist who is one of eight key California Halal Fest organizers, told Illume Magazine.
“I saw all these halal food carts and trucks, and I wondered why we couldn’t do that here.”
Planned next August 17, “Halal Fest” is the first ever Halal Food & Eid Festival in California.
The free event followed similar halal-focused festivals in New Jersey, Los Angeles, and Toronto. However, it is the first to combine both Halal festival and `Eid celebrations.
Seeing similar events in different American states, Rydhan formed his team of American Muslims and fellow foodies last August.
They have put plans for the event which will include halal food along with carnival type rides for children, a performance of Moroccan jazz and Indonesian singers, as well as skateboard, fitness, and chess demonstrations.
Rydhan said he hopes at least 2,000 people will attend.
As of this week, his group’s Facebook page has more than 1,250 “likes.”
Offering free entry and parking, attendants will b encouraged to purchase their “Halal Fest” Tokens
The concept of halal, — meaning permissible in Arabic — has traditionally been applied to food.
Muslims should only eat meat from livestock slaughtered by a sharp knife from their necks, and the name of Allah, the Arabic word for God, must be mentioned.
Although there are no official figures, the United States is believed to be home to between 6-8 million Muslims.
Held in the Bay Area, which is home to some 300,000 Muslims, the event is expected to achieve a historic success.
“This is going to be an historic event for California, celebrating halal food with our Eid festival,” Rydhan said.
“We believe in the spiritual benefits of halal food. We believe if you put good things in your body, then good things will happen to you in your life.”
Introducing new types of halal food, Halal Fest will include Pakistani or Middle Eastern food as well as American style halal food such as Smoked BBQ Brisket Burgers by King’s BBQ and Grill in Fremont, southern fried chicken by New Africa Kitchen.
Aysha Mohsin, 28, of Milpitas, another Halal Fest organizer and well known Muslim community activist, was so excited about the event.
“It’s crazy how much interest there is in this,” Mohsin said.
“Food is at the center of bringing so many people together. And food trucks are so trendy right now. We just thought, ‘Why not host a festival?’ ” (OnIslam).*