“I feel more confident, more independent, I feel like I can do something”. Two days before the big day, Tehmina Khan shuffles around her home organizing packages of Pakistani and Indian suits, jewelry and Middle Eastern scarves, as reported by CBC News.
On Thursday, she will be one of 22 home-based vendors — with 26 in total — participating in the second North Edmonton Eid Bazaar, a marketplace coming together days before Muslims all over the world celebrate Eid ul-Adha (the festival of sacrifice) on the weekend.
“A bazaar is a maze of vendors selling everything from food to household items, and are typically found in Muslim majority countries in the Middle East or South Asia,” said Sharon Ali, one of the organizers of the bazaar.
“As a tradition, Muslims would go to shop, eat and enjoy time with their families at bazaars before big festivities such as Eid, and celebrations such as weddings.”
That same tradition has immigrated to Canada, with Eid bazaars popping up across the country. The market coming together on Thursday isn’t the first for Edmonton.
“Edmonton has an annual bazaar that takes place in the south side of the city,” Ali said.
Due to a growing demand, she decided to help organize another one in the north side.
“I grew up in Edmonton but my family would go to Vancouver, sometimes Calgary, because they had a bigger Muslim community who organized bazaars,” she said. “But as Edmonton’s community grows, so has the demand for bazaars.”
Ali said about 500 people attended the inaugural bazaar last year. This year, organizers have booked a larger hall — the ARCA Banquet Hall — with 600 to 800 people expected to walk through.
The growing demand has given local businesses run by Muslim women the opportunity to promote their products.
The bazaar has helped Khan’s home-based Flair Hijab, an online shop for South Asian and Middle Eastern clothing, jewelry and scarves, attract a loyal clientele in Edmonton.
“It wasn’t my plan to start a business,” said Khan, 43, the mother of five children.
After ordering clothing to wear for Eid from Malaysia, she began receiving requests from Muslim Edmontonians to order some for them too.
Starting her business, Khan said, pushed herself outside her comfort zone.
“People called me after last year’s bazaar to order more clothing,” Khan said. “Now I’m focusing full-time on my business.”
Henna: A big attraction
Tooba Sheikh, a local henna designer, said she went to Eid bazaars growing up and was excited to participate in the north side bazaar.
She began playing around with henna when she was four years old.
“After my son was born, I decided to take a break from my full-time job and stay home with him,” she said. “When I stayed home, I wanted to utilize my other talents and decided to start my own business.”
A dozen years later, Sheikh said she has a huge clientele in the city throughout the year but Eid is always the busiest time.
“Traditionally, Muslims apply henna the night before Eid. Last year, we had a long lineup and people had to wait to get henna done. And it was a long, long wait.”
Ali said the vendors, food and entertainment are a great opportunity for people not a part of the culture to learn more about Eid and other cultures.
“It’s a chance to make new friends and to get to know one another. It’s not just for Muslims, it’s for everybody.”