Muslims across Southern California marked the end of the holy month of Ramadan on Sunday, breaking a month of fasting with prayers and celebrations.
Eid al-Fitr, Islam's second holiest holiday, began this weekend and is observed for up to three days. The festival is a chance for the community to celebrate after a month of abstaining from eating, drinking and other sensual pleasures as a way to improve moral character.
Eid is "a joyous time for all Muslims to be grateful for what we have," said Dr. Ahsan M. Khan, president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Los Angeles East Chapter. "It is a time for us to celebrate peace on Earth, engage in service to others and rejoice in the bounties provided by God."
About 500,000 Muslims live in Southern California, with more than 120,000 in Orange County, the second-largest population of Muslims in the United States.
At Angel Stadium in Anaheim on Sunday, more than 15,000 worshippers donned their finest outfits and gathered on the infield grass for prayers and festivities. During Eid, it is customary to visit friends and families and greet each other with the phrase "Eid Mubarak," which means "blessed holiday."
At the Islamic Center of South Bay, families were treated to a community breakfast before gathering at the Mulligan Family Fun Center for an outdoor celebration that included go-kart riding and rock climbing. The Islamic Center of the San Gabriel Valley hosted an array of food vendors after prayers.
In Upland, hundreds of Muslims from different nationalities and ethnic backgrounds gathered for morning prayers at the Middle Ground Muslim Center. An evening celebration was planned at the King Fahad Mosque in Culver City while more than 1,000 congregants were expected to gather for morning prayers on Monday at Baitul Hameed Mosque in Chino.
Breaking with a tradition that began in 1996, President Trump did not host an iftar dinner at the White House this year. In the past, the dinner has been attended by leaders of the U.S. Muslim community.
Instead, Trump and First Lady Melania issued a brief statement Saturday:
"As [Muslims] commemorate Eid with family and friends, they carry on the tradition of helping neighbors and breaking bread with people from all walks of life. During this holiday, we are reminded of the importance of mercy, compassion, and goodwill. With Muslims around the world, the United States renews our commitment to honor these values."
But late last month, Trump issued a statement intended to mark the beginning of Ramadan that was condemned by members of the Muslim community because of its focus on terrorism. This is an excerpt from that statement:
"This year, the holiday begins as the world mourns the innocent victims of barbaric terrorist attacks in the United Kingdom and Egypt, acts of depravity that are directly contrary to the spirit of Ramadan," according to the White House statement. "Such acts only steel our resolve to defeat the terrorists and their perverted ideology."
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also declined to host an Eid celebration this year, breaking a two-decade tradition of the department.
7:20 p.m.: This story was updated with new information about more holiday festivities.