Holidays

A Canadian Influencer’s Guide To Eid Gifting: Saira Arshad

April 21, 2022

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 Saira to find out more. —Noa Nichol

Hi Saira! Please tell us a bit about yourself to start.

Hiya Salaam! My name is Saira Arshad. I am a travel and modest fashion blogger and content creator currently transitioning into motherhood (#newmom)! As a Muslim Canadian, born and raised, I’m so excited to share this special part of me with you!

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?

I actually wrote to The Bay last year pitching a collaboration for Eid and the rest is history! Growing up, The Bay has always represented something very Canadian to me and my family. Having just moved back to Canada after a few years in the Middle East, I missed the buzz around Ramadan and Eid from major retailers which were very normal during this time of year and wondered why I had yet to experience that in Canada, especially given how much we pride ourselves on inclusion and celebrating diversity. Having worked on Ramadan and Eid campaigns abroad which celebrated this very special part of me, I thought it would be so cool if we got The Bay, the very retailer I grew up with and represented a part of Canadian-ess to me, to celebrate Eid with us! We decided to do a gift guide and Eid recipe last year, and I’m so glad the gift guide has carried into this year too!

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 Al-Fitr is the celebration that marks the end of the Holy month of Ramadan. To me, it has always signified a time of reflection and gratitude for the spiritual reset I experienced during the month. Eid is synonymous with the act of giving and the day is all about togetherness with family, friends, and the community. A tradition we have always upheld is starting the day with Eid prayers as a family at the local mosque followed by breakfast at my mum’s with my cousins. After we’ve eaten, it’s time for gifts and ‘Secret Eidi’, a spin on the traditional ‘Secret Santa’! This will be my first Eid as a mum and I’m looking forward to having my daughter join in on the celebrations whilst starting some new traditions of our own!

How does gift-giving figure into the celebration of Eid, and what was your input for The Bay’s gift guide?

Like any celebration, the exchanging of gifts brings joy to others and makes it just a little more special! ‘Eidiya’, a monetary gift, is also traditionally given by elders to children to get them excited about the celebration. It is also common practice to dress your best on Eid. Growing up my mum always ensured we had something new to wear for the celebration so we knew it was a special occasion. I chose some festive pieces for the gift guide which are perfect for gifting to loved ones (or even yourself!). Think shimmering jewel-tone pieces, gold hardware, and glitter bows which you can accessorize any look with as well as looks that easily transition from prayers at the mosque, to brunch with the girls, to family dinner in the evening! There’s something for the whole family!

Does a campaign/collaboration like this help promote and enhance multiculturalism, in your opinion? How so?

Oh for sure! When campaigns and collaborations like this happen, especially with large retailers like The Bay, it allows minorities to see themselves represented. It becomes a relatable experience for the viewer and demonstrates respect and understanding on the part of the brand.

Do you have a favourite food to eat at Eid, or a recipe to share with us?

Yes! Mandazi is a must on Eid. It’s a type of fried puffy-looking bread originating from East Africa usually cut in triangular shapes and can be eaten as a snack on its own or with both sweet and savoury dishes. My favourite is with a coconut corn curry my mum makes!

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?

Beyond fasting, Ramadan, the month leading up to Eid, is synonymous with charity and each individual is encouraged to partake in acts of charity. Charitable acts, regardless of what they may be, are multiplied in their reward during this month and many Muslims try to take advantage of this. Contributing to causes like education, food security, sponsoring orphans etc. ensures that everyone in the wider community is looked after both during and long after Eid. Tying into your previous question about gift-giving during Eid, sometimes people will put forth a donation as a gift on behalf of someone else. An example of this would be giving someone a sponsorship card saying “I donated X on your behalf”. Doing so creates a pay-it-forward model and everyone is better for it.

Finally, of the gifts included in The Bay’s Eid Gift Guide, what’s your absolute fave, and why?

It would have to be the River Island maxi dress! I love the glittery gold stars against the black and how the dress flows effortlessly. It’s the perfect transitional piece to go from day to night in my opinion!

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