The Muslims of Greater Manchester flock to Curry Mile to celebrate Eid al-Fitr in a wild party atmosphere, where the curry houses, shisha bars, and milkshake cafes are packed and street vendors and performers pepper the pavement.
There are various ways to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim festival that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan. The most common procedure for celebration involves gathering your family early in the morning to perform the Eid prayer, before breaking your Ramadan fast by eating tables full of food. However, the annual procedure down the Curry Mile (or half-mile, if you're being pedantic) in Rusholme, Greater Manchester is a little different to what you'll find elsewhere.
Muslims flock to the area from miles around to celebrate Eid here. I arrived in Rusholme at around 7:30 PM on Friday and already the atmosphere was electric. All of the mile's curry houses, shisha bars, and milkshake cafes were packed. Street vendors and performers peppered the pavements and men either roared around on quad bikes or crawled by in super cars, blaring the kind of dubstep that sounds like the guttural groans of several thousand dying fax machines.
The wild party atmosphere sometimes spills over into violence and this year there had been rumors that the English Defence League would show up to protest against the event. Whether they were put off by the huge police presence or not, they didn't make an appearance.
However, BJ Chela—who launched a one-man protest against the treatment of Guantanamo prisoners at the end of June by salsa dancing around Blackburn—was there doing his thing, dressed in an orange jumpsuit with a black mask over his head. Unfortunately, a group of women—presumably mistaking his show of solidarity for an off-brand Disney street performance—turned his solemn demonstration into a Thursday night photo-opp, complete with smiles, Rubicon, and peace signs.
Male sartorial choices seemed to veer between Sean Paul circa the video for "Like Glue," and Apprentice contestants basing their entire personas on Pitbull's winning shiny suit and shades at night combo. Walking around with my camera, I felt like a party photographer without a club website to upload all the photos to. Groups of men constantly asked me to take their photo, either with their friends, in their car or flaunting their gold. Everyone seemed to be having a blast.
Follow Chris on Twitter: @CBethell_photo
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