Ginninderry is used to breaking the mould when it comes to liveability and sustainability. But last month, it also broke the mould in religious inclusivity as it facilitated the ACT’s first multi-faith Ramadan feast at the Kippax Uniting Community Centre.
The event was one of two Iftar’s held in April that celebrated the breaking of the fast during Ramadan with the first taking place at The Link, Ginninderry’s Community and Information Centre.
Overseen by Ginninderry Senior Development Manager Imran Khan, Ginninderry Community Development Manager Tulitha King, UnitingCare Kippax CEO Michael Nurmi, ANU Muslim Chaplain Muhammad Imtiaz, Kippax Uniting Church Minister Karyl Davison and HelpingACT founding president Mohammed Ali, the event set new records for attendance.
According to Tulitha, it was extraordinarily moving to have a Muslim feast in a Christian setting and it extended new friendship opportunities between the faiths which she hoped would solidify in the coming months and years.
“I can tell you it was really emotional to be part of. It was something truly special and there were a few tears shed,” she said.
“Once different religions are demystified to those who may not know about them, you realise we are all similar and are brought together by food, family and sharing joyful experiences. It’s all very simple really.”
Kippax Uniting Church had been “super on board, an open and wonderful church which has community development at the heart of what they do and is keen to ensure their centre is a home for all.”
Three years ago Ginninderry began running the first Iftar in collaboration with HelpingACT (run by ACT Citizen of the Year, Mohammed Ali, a community group that delivers food and supplies to refugees, international students and the homeless around the Capital Region) and UnitingCare.
Tulitha said they quickly became aware of the popularity of the event after the first 80 places sold out and they had to increase capacity each year after that. This year the two celebrations drew crowds of 120 and 150 respectively.
The move to celebrate Ramadan both onsite in Ginninderry and in Kippax had been a huge success and would be repeated again next year.
“Ginninderry is very much committed to the Belconnen region. Kippax is our local shopping centre, and it’s important to contribute to the community that we are a part of.
A fifth-generation Australian and Muslim man of Pakistani descent, Imran was thrilled to see Ginninderry continue to become a central focus for Iftar both in the Belconnen area and across Canberra.
“It was truly satisfying to see how different cultures came together and celebrated the event, and what was remarkable to see was the massive cross-section of backgrounds in the room on the night. It shows the positives of focusing on our similarities and not our differences.”
Imran paid special tribute to Mohammed from HelpingACT for having the energy and drive to help coordinate the event and to MC the evening so well.
Food for both celebratory feasts was provided by Taj Agra, which provided a selection of different dishes for each, including curries, dahls and biryanis. Sweet treats including gulab jamon and barfi was provided by Sweet Mahal.
While Imran said he was always a little nervous about putting on such a big event, each year had exceeded expectations, especially this year.
“It was better than we hoped for, and we all came away feeling really positive about achieving a unique and special event.”