Canadian artist shares magic and inspiration of Eid ul Fitr through creations
Vancouver artist Shazmeen Omar has many happy childhood memories of Eid ul Fitr, and they continue to inspire her to this day.
Originally from Tanzania in East Africa, the acclaimed illustrator moved to Vancouver in 2015 to pursue undergraduate studies at UBC. And her traditions keep her connected to family back home.
“Eid is a deeply cherished and meaningful occasion for me,” Omar told Daily Hive in an interview. “I remember the thrill of wearing a brand-new outfit and eagerly checking the colour of my henna stain. I loved preparing little gift bags for my younger cousins filled with sweets and chocolates and eagerly awaiting the ‘Eidi’ envelopes from my parents, relatives, and neighbors, which always contained a special surprise.
“Although Eid has had a different flavour since I moved to Canada, it remains an essential part of my life. More than anything, it’s a time to reflect on the blessings of the past month and to celebrate the spirit of community and love with those closest to us.”
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Omar explains that on Eid, the day typically begins with a special prayer at the mosque, followed by a festive meal with loved ones at home. New clothes are worn, gifts are exchanged, elders are visited and family and friends come together to celebrate the completion of Ramadan.
“Eid ul Fitr is one of the most magical times of the year for Muslims and is an important Islamic holiday all over the world. It’s important to remember that not everyone has the same privilege and experiences when it comes to Eid. As a result, many Muslims give to charity during Ramadan, whether it be through donating money, volunteering their time, or providing food and gifts to those in need.”
To help celebrate Eid ul Fitr, the Rafiki Designs and Dua & Roses founder has created two newly commissioned pieces for Daily Hive. The first represents the importance of Islamic art around the globe.
“If I was given the chance to create a customized postage stamp for Eid Ul Fitr, this is exactly what it would look like,” said Omar. “This illustration features an intricate geometrical pattern, floral motifs, and Arabic calligraphy — the three main elements found in Islamic Art around the world.
“The use of Islamic art and design in the illustration is especially meaningful to me, as it reminds me of the rich history and influence of Islamic art across the world.”
Omar’s second design pays tribute to one of the most important traditions of Muslim celebrations.
“It is common practice for Muslim women around the world to adorn their hands with intricate henna designs, often in preparation for Eid festivities,” explained Omar. “These designs can range from simple patterns to elaborate works of art that cover the entire hand and wrist.
“I have vivid memories of going out with my mum the night before Eid to get henna done and comparing our stains the next morning. This cultural practice is something I have come to enjoy and appreciate as I’ve moved away from my family.”
Family is an important part of Omar’s artistic journey. She names her father as her biggest creative influence and a source of inspiration.
“My father has the most beautiful handwriting I have ever seen and has been my go-to person for help with any creative project since I was a little girl. From creating a functional Minnie Mouse clock out of a paper plate to assembling a fully equipped first aid kit using household supplies, he has always inspired me with his creativity and resourcefulness.
“He is incredibly proud of the work I have done, and his unwavering support and encouragement have been instrumental in my journey as an artist.”
Another person that Omar is grateful to have support from is her husband.
“My husband is a significant influence in my life,” she said. “He has been my biggest cheerleader and sounding board for every piece of art I’ve ever shared.
“Without his support and encouragement, my introverted self may not have had the courage to share my art with the world.”
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Though her artistic journey has taken her far from home, Omar remembers that creativity has been a part of her life from a very young age. Many of her new original designs can be found on her Etsy Shop as well as stocked in multiple locations around Tanzania.
“I would volunteer to make the class timetable every year just so I could use my colourful markers and show off my penmanship,” she shared. “Over the years, I always had some sort of creative hobby to keep myself entertained. And there are still so many skills I would love to learn. I’m always looking for ways to challenge myself creatively.”
“I just want to thank everyone who has supported my artwork and my brands thus far. It means the world to me to be able to share my passion with others and to create relatable art that brings joy and inspiration to others.”
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