FAMILIES, friends and strangers knelt down together to pray and exchange words of affection with each other during a global muslim holiday. 

Brighton’s first outdoor celebration of Eid al-Adha took place in Preston Park today. 

Thousands flocked to the event in their traditional dress and gathered around Imam Uthman, leader of the Al-Medinah Mosque in Bedford Place, Brighton, who gave a sermon and led the morning prayers from 9am. 

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Ahmad Jamee, a senior officer at Brighton and Hove City Council, organised event, which according to him is the biggest muslim gathering yet in Sussex. 

“It’s all about forgiveness and connecting with family and those you may have lost connection with in the past,” he said. 

“This event is about respect and finding peace, and showing respect for others.”

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Originally from Bangladesh, Ahmad said he felt touched by the huge turn out to the festival. 

“So many people have come, and we are expecting more throughout the day. 

“A lot of refugees have come today. It’s good to have something to make them feel welcome.” The day is marked with the sacrifice of an animal, usually a sheep, or cow, and the distribution of the meat among neighbours, family members, and the poor.

Given UK regulations, Ahmad said the sacrifice has been arranged at a slaughterhouse, and the meat will then be distributed among families. 

Other activities have also been arranged at Preston Park for the day including rides for children to enjoy. 

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Imam Uthman said: “We wanted this event to be all about the community.

“We have had a lot of neighbours to our mosques asking ‘what is the procedure’ for joining in events and they have shown interest, so we really want to include as many people as possible, regardless of faith, everyone’s welcome.

“It’s also important to have these events open to refugees. This day is like Christmas, and we are trying to not only fight loneliness in the elderly, but also refugees. Being alone on a family celebration can be particularly upsetting, so we want to make this event as open as possible.”

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The holiday lasts three days during which families will share food and spend time together. 

The day also marks the end of Hajj, the five-day-long pilgrimage Muslims undertake to cleanse the soul of sins and instil a sense of equality and brotherhood among Muslims.