Ramadan closes with a 'Happy Eid'
The patter of children's feet moved across the main floor of the Victoria Islamic Center as the congregation gathered near the long, rectangular gift table.
Imam Osama Hassan picked up a small microphone and counted to three.
"Eid Mubarak!" the children shouted after the count.
After 30 days of fasting for Ramadan - the holiest month in Islam - Muslim families were ready Thursday morning to break their fast and celebrate Eid al-Fitr.
"I feel really good, like I am a winner," said Lydia Palmer, 28, of Victoria. "I was so excited last night, I couldn't sleep. I just feel so happy."
Wearing a new hijab shipped from Indonesia, a gift from her mother, Palmer said she continues to share the same enthusiasm as she did when she was a child.
But now that she's an adult, her own children - Alesha, Raina, Waheed and Hafiz Palmer - get to experience the excitement of Eid.
"We started preparing for this about two days ago, baking food and preparing some traditional pineapple tarts and other things," she said. Palmer also took her children to Wal-Mart and allowed them to choose whatever they wanted as a gift to open at the Eid celebration.
"It's exciting for both children and adults. For the adults because they succeeded the whole month fasting, and for the children because of the gifts. And that makes us happy," Palmer said.
Hassan distributed gifts to the children, calling their names up to the table one at a time.
The gifts followed a banquet feast breakfast, featuring many sugary items, a tradition of Eid al-Fitr.
"This is one of the most important days to the Muslim because we get to be able to complete what God has asked us to do. We get to celebrate our efforts in the month of Ramadan," he said. "This is the day you get to see everybody. Everyone is excited and has a big smile on their face. We give hugs to one another."
Following the morning celebrations, the Victoria Islamic Center members set up inflatable jumping castles inside and organized a barbecue cookout on the lawn. Other activities included face painting, basketball and an outdoor obstacle course.
Of all the events planned, Hassan said food is really not on anyone's mind.
"Believe it not, since we're awake the whole night, we do not even think about the food - we just get used to not eating," he said.