Thousands of Muslims praying outdoors at the end of Ramadan 2022 have been photographed by drones flying high above the city. Two Eid ul-Fitr gatherings were organised by Green Lane Masjid – one next to Edgbaston Stadium at 8.30am followed by another, larger one an hour later in Small Heath Park.
The pictures illustrate how, in the words of West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, the period of fasting during Ramadan is one of ‘inclusivity’ when people come together for a common purpose.
The main picture we’ve selected below was taken from the Tennyson Road side of Small Heath Park where the main boating lake is. It shows the vast gathering surrounded by verdant landscaping with the tower blocks of the city centre on the skyline. Had the day been much sunnier with clearer visibility, it could have been a truly spectacular image.
Read more:Eid in Small Heath Park has big changes, colourful costumes and smiles galore
The aerial pictures from the Edgbaston Stadium event show a smaller gathering on two sides of the practice pitch next to the cricket ground and Edgbaston Road. Here, prayers were underway at 8.30am, an hour before the Small Heath Park prayers were held.
You can watch three BirminghamLive, Facebook Live videos of events from both sites – the Small Heath Park prayers are on this link here, there’s coverage of the Robert Wilkinson Funfair rides here and the Edgbaston Stadium prayers can be seen here
First estimates of the attendance in Small Heath Park was put at beteeen 30,000 and 40,000 – down on June 2, 2019 when the event was last permitted pre-Covid but much higher than the 20,000 it was thought might turn out in 2022.
As has been the case in recent years, the weather stayed fine. Following rain on Sunday, a judgement call was made overnight about whether the grass would be too wet for the events to go ahead, but the contingency plans for indoor prayers were not needed.
Being able to hold the gatherings on Bank Holiday Monday meant that traffic in the area was lighter than it would have been during a traditional rush hour period. Following prayers, many worshippers moved over to the part of Small Heath Park that will host the Robert Wilkinson Funfair until May 8.
Families were out in force, with young children able to enjoy the rides and dodgems. Teenagers were also able to let their hair down after the pre-Covid periods of Ramadan fasting clashed with ‘GCSE’ and ‘A’ Level exams.
This year’s event in Small Heath Park was markedly different to previous years. Giant swathes of plastic sheeting for people to sit on were not brought out of storage in favour of asking worshippers to bring their own mats and to be guided by fine, coloured string as to where to place them.
And there were no speeches beforehand this year to emphasise the importance of prayer.
West Midlands Police officers were among those in attendance on a day of celebration. A group of girls from Somalian families were keen to sit in the driving seat of a police car – and the officer was only too happy to oblige.
Meanwhile female police officers mingled with the crowds in the Robert Wilkinson Funfair end of the park. Their reassuring presence came in handy when a little boy got separated from his family and was looked after by four officers.
When the West Midlands Police Museum on Steelhouse Lane opened in April, the newly-knighted Sir Dave Thompson said: “The museum will give people a chance to learn more about their local police force today, as well as learning all about its history.
“That is essential for us when we consider the good and bad from our history; from pioneering female, black and Asian officers, to lessons learned when we haven’t quite got it right.
“The objects on display are not just obsolete pieces of kit and collections of old pictures and records. Each tells a poignant story. They demonstrate struggles of those who’ve gone before us and shine a light on the social history of policing.
“The museum will give us a chance to build bridges with communities through our shared history, and educate people on how policing has developed. It will be an important education resource for young people in the West Midlands and beyond.”
Read more: Muslim runner fundraises for Birmingham Children’s Hospital while fasting for Ramadan
Read more: What it’s like training for the Great Birmingham Run 2022 and fasting during Ramadan
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