With Eid al-Fitr just around the corner, The Bay has unveiled an inspired gift guide to help take the guesswork out of preparing for this special occasion. Curated in collaboration with three Canadian influencers—Hawa Baledio, Anam Lone and Saira Arshad—the guide delivers gift-givers (and receivers!) with inspiration across beauty, fashion and home. We chatted with Anam to find out more. —Noa Nichol
Hi Anam! Please tell us a bit about yourself to start.
I live in Toronto with my husband & three kids. Though I’m a Chartered Accountant by profession and work in that field, I am also a Home & Lifestyle influencer and a business owner. I have always loved decorating and organizing, so when I first bought my house, I started sharing little bits of my new home journey on Instagram. Over time, I formed an active community of women around my account who could relate to my lifestyle. And just like that, content creation became a fun creative outlet for me and allowed me to connect with so many people around the world.
How did you hook up with The Bay to help curate its Eid Gift Guide? What about the opportunity made it a perfect fit for you?
The Bay actually reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in collaborating with them. I was so thrilled by the opportunity to work with such a historic Canadian department store. What made it a perfect fit was that they were creating an Eid gift guide focused on home products while giving me the freedom to create content that would best resonate with my audience. I had to say Yes!
What is the annual Eid celebration all about, and what does it mean to you? What cultural traditions (from childhood, or even further back) do you keep, and do you put any personal twists on the holiday when celebrating today?
Eid-ul-Fitr can be translated as “the festival of breaking the fast.” It is an annual 3-day celebration that follows Ramadan, a month in which Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. For me, Eid symbolizes a connection to my religion and culture. There are so many Eid traditions that I keep up in my family – for example, going for prayers as a family on the morning of Eid, freshening up the home and wearing new clothes, preparing a home-made sweet dish and hosting friends and family. I have adapted some new activities too, such as putting up Eid decor in and outside the house. That is something I did not do growing up, since Eid decor was on the streets and in the malls. But here in Canada, we try to create that festive feeling for our kids at home.
How does gift-giving figure into the celebration of Eid, and what was your input for The Bay’s gift guide?
Gift-giving is an important part of Eid. When visiting each other on the day of Eid, relatives and friends often bring along gifts in the form of sweets or new clothes. Traditionally, kids also get “Eidi” – money from parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts to spend on whatever they like. For the Bay’s gift guide, I wanted to highlight memorable items that one could bring as hostess’ gifts that are high-quality and built to last. I had a lot of fun adding a variety to my list.
Does a campaign/collaboration like this help promote and enhance multiculturalism, in your opinion? How so?
Canada has a beautiful multicultural society and most Canadians have acquaintances, friends and co-workers that have immigrated from around the world. I think translating this multiculturalism online through brand campaigns really helps showcase the beauty of diversity. Influencers have always been sharing content around their cultural holidays and traditions, but their message gets amplified when supported by an iconic brand like the Bay.
Do you have a favourite food to eat at Eid, or a recipe to share with us?
My list of favourite foods to eat at Eid is very long, especially because it comes after the month of fasting. If I had to name just three, I’d say Shahi Tukray, Biryani and Tandoori Chicken. I’m sharing my recipe for Shahi Tukray below. You will see a video of this on my Instagram page as well.
We understand that charity or the duty to give to the poor is also a part of Eid; can you tell us a bit more about that aspect of it, especially in your own observance?
Along with the celebrations, giving charity is an important part of Eid as well. During Ramadan, we spend an entire month abstaining from food and drink which helps us develop empathy for those who go on for days without these basic necessities. My husband and I provide financial aid to some needy families we personally know back home, as well as donate to registered charitable organizations that do amazing work around the world by supporting orphans, creating water wells and providing emergency aid to those struck by disaster.
Finally, of the gifts included in The Bay’s Eid Gift Guide, what’s your absolute fave, and why?
My favourite has to be the cheeseboard. I think it can be used in so many ways (formal or casual, for serving or decorative layering in a tablescape), and the combination of marble with gold knives is beautiful and classic.