The Brighter, The Better: See Why These Neighborhoods Are Lighting Up
They wanted to uplift peoples' spirits during the Ramadan holiday, even if this year's celebrations will look much different than those of the past.
Typically, during this time of year the streets of Dearborn, MI are starting to look pretty festive.
The Detroit suburb has one of the largest Muslim populations in the country, and during the holy month of Ramadan, residents decorate their homes with colorful lights and decorations, similar to Christmas.
Muslim residents in Dearborn, MI decorate their homes with festive lights for Ramadan. Halal Metropolis/Facebook
Along with decorating their homes, Muslims celebrate the holy month by fasting from sunrise to sunset, a practice that is said to bring great spiritual rewards, like becoming more compassionate to those in need.
Due to the coronavirus, Ramadan festivities will look much different this year as mosques remain closed and social distancing restricts families and friends from gathering in each other's' homes for iftar, the nightly meals that break each day's fast.
To keep the spirit of the holiday alive, and to help uplift the community, a few Muslim organizers have teamed up to host "The Ramadan Lights Contest," a friendly competition to find the home with the best outdoor decorations.
The contest encourages people to decorate their homes and take photos. Then, they can nominate themselves, or their neighbors, to win various prizes. The photos will be shared on social media and the public can vote on their ten favorite houses from each district. Judges will then pick the best lit-up homes in the city.
The Muslim community hopes the challenge will lift peoples' spirits during the lockdown. Halal Metropolis/Facebook
The festival committee has already received dozens of submissions from residents hoping to take home the title.
"This will help raise spirits by providing a positive, pro-social project for the community to get involved with," Razi Jafri, one of the contest's organizers, told CNN. "It's amazing because both Muslims and non-Muslims in the community are getting so excited about it. There's been so much positive energy that has come out of this already. "
Residents can nominate their own homes or their neighbor's for the contest. Halal Metropolis/Facebook
The trend of decorating public spaces during Ramadan is common in the Middle East, however it's only recently catching on in the U.S. thanks to retailers like Amazon and local grocers selling decorative lights and other signature Muslim decor.
Machhadie Assi, an event coordinator and youth director for the Michigan Muslim Community Council (MMCC), says she hopes the tradition will continue even after the pandemic has passed.
"Ramadan is a very uplifting month, so hopefully this light will represent the enlightenment of Ramadan," Assi said.
The winners of the contest will receive a gift certificate and a tray of sweets for Eid al-Fitr, the celebration that marks the end of Ramadan.
What a great way to celebrate and promote togetherness while still practicing safe social distancing. We're sure the holiday lights will bring smiles to those in the Muslim community and beyond!
The trend of decorating homes for Ramadan is catching on in the U.S. Halal Metropolis/Facebook