As a student embarking on my LLM (Master of Laws) journey at the University of Essex in 2011, I found myself immersed in a diverse and vibrant community that welcomed people from all walks of life. However, my arrival coincided with the final days of Ramadan, a time traditionally spent with family. It was my first experience of being away from home during this sacred month, and I couldn't help but wonder how Eid would be celebrated in this new environment.

Fortunately, I soon discovered that the University's Islamic Society had organized special Eid prayers and festivities for students like me who were unable to be with their families during this joyous occasion. The anticipation grew as I received emails detailing the various events planned for Ramadan and Eid. The Eid prayer itself was a grand affair, held bright and early at 7am in the Sports Centre to accommodate the large number of attendees from the university and surrounding areas.

People celebrating Eid in our Sports Centre

What struck me most about the Eid celebrations at Essex was the sense of unity and camaraderie among attendees. As I stood shoulder to shoulder with fellow students, faculty, and members of the local community, I felt a deep connection despite our diverse backgrounds. It was heartwarming to see people from different countries come together to share in the joy of Eid, exchanging stories and traditions that transcended cultural boundaries.

In addition to the Eid prayer, the Islamic Society organized separate Eid parties for men and women, creating inclusive spaces for everyone to celebrate. The men's party took place on campus, while the women and children gathered at an indoor playground for a day of fun-filled activities. These gatherings not only provided an opportunity to celebrate Eid but also fostered a sense of belonging and solidarity within the university community.

Now, as I reflect on my 13 years of attending Eid prayers at the University of Essex, I am filled with gratitude for the warm embrace of the community that welcomed me all those years ago. Celebrating Eid at Essex has not only been a cherished tradition but also a testament to the power of unity and diversity in creating memorable experiences that transcend borders and bring people together in celebration.