For the second time this Ramadan, hundreds of British Muslims and non-Muslims gathered together for an OpenIftar at the V&A in the Raphael Cartoons room.
The paintings are called cartoons as they come from the Italian word ‘cartone’ which means ‘big paper,’ apt as the gallery is covered in some stunning artwork enjoyed by the 500+ in attendance.
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The evening’s highlight was the adhan (call to prayer) in the entrance atrium underneath the Rotunda Chandelier.
Designed by Dale Chihuly, it’s named ‘Ice Blue and Spring Green,’ and it was a perfect color combination that created a pulse, like a heartbeat, as the call to prayer resounded through the hall and the prayers commenced below.
Sarah Joseph dived in with context for the beautiful St George’s Altarpiece which sat at one end of the room. She pointed out that St George, the patron saint of England, was actually half Palestinian and half Turkish.
Living in the 3rd century AD, he lived generations before Prophet Muhammad, yet he embodied the universal values and principles we associate with Islam.
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Shahed Salem, the designer of the Ramadan Pavilion, an abstract mosque in one of the courtyards of the V&A said that he took inspiration from the travels of Europeans throughout the Muslim world. He then interpreted their interpretations to create a unique structure.
Speaking on stage, Shaheen Kasmani, lead curator of the Ramadan pavilion at the V&A for this year, shared that it is people who give things meaning. Whatever any person has built, the more they see something, the more it can be enjoyed.
To either side of the stage were block prints from a workshop organized by the Khidr Collective, run by Alan Alsaraji and Night Alam. Taking inspiration from Islamic Art, the patterns are printed and on the night show on stage.
In all, guests loved the environment and the experience and were equally joyed with a biryani meal from Fait Maison to top off the program.
Organizers at Ramadan Tent Project say they wanted to bring communities together during the holy month.