Saudi celebration engages community

By Sandra Preciado


The University of the Incarnate Word was home to a Saudi celebration of Eid-al-Addha, celebration held after Hajj, an annual pilgrimage within the Muslim communities, on Wednesday, Sept. 6.

The celebration – sponsored by UIW’s Saudi Student Club — took place in the lobby of the new Student Engagement Center.

Many different aromas and traditional music filled the air. Students could get henna tattoos for $6-$7. An information table showcased the Hajj and Eid-al-Addha celebrations with pamphlets, swag pins and bracelets. Another table featured traditional special-occasion Muslim clothing that students could try on for a photo layout on traditional placemats and pillows. And partakers also could consume traditional Muslim sweet pastries, candy, fruit, drinks, sweet warm tea and coffee.

“The Saudi Club has been here since 2011 at the UIW campus organizing two events and the National Saudi Day,” member Ahmed Alalyani said. “We hope to attract more people to come join us to these celebrations most likely taking place here at the new student center.”

Majeed Alotaibi, a senior international exchange student studying management and information systems, said he came to help a friend in
the club. But the event reminded him of home.

“Eid-al-Addha is a festival celebrated each year, starting the day with morning prayers followed by a big gathering of family and friends
for big lunches,” Alotaibi said.

MaKaily Jonas dressed for the occasion, wearing a traditional Muslim garment.

“I am a sponsor and coordinator for students that are funded by the U.S government or a foreign government that funds students to get their degree here at UIW,” Jonas said. “We have about 190 Saudi students right now, and I serve as an adviser for the Saudi Students Club.

“Today at the celebration we hope to bring awareness to the school and introduce students to Muslim culture and traditions. I definitely think that these events stand truth to the university’s values increasing diversity and bringing awareness to other cultures. Just because this
is a Catholic institution does not mean that all students are Catholic and I think it’s important to remember that. We have students that come from over 70 different countries from all different religions and we like to showcase that diversity to other students.”

Mayur Dallabh, an international student majoring in kinesiology, said he’s befriended several students from Saudi Arabia while working at UIW’s international office in Dr. Burton E. Grossman International Conference Center.

“I think it’s important to show up and support my friends with their events,” Dallabh said. “So far I am definitely enjoying myself just talking to people passing by. I would recommend trying the baklava, which is a sweet Saudi pastry. And the tea — it’s also delicious.”

Student Matt Pittman said he wanted to try the food and learn more about the culture.

“Like Saudi Arabia’s flag is green,” Pittman said. “ It represents Muslims and is Mohamed’s favorite color.”

Cultural celebrations such as the one he attended are important, Pittman said.

“I think this is a good thing, because it makes foreigners not seem so foreign and actually find out you can have stuff in common,” Pittman said. “Also you get to have an idea of what their country is like without leaving the country.”

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