Festive occasions celebrated in Fiji are regarded as a spiritual bonding period by people of all religious groups.
The joyous season leading to Christmas Day is an annual occasion that religious groups and all Christian denominations celebrate to remember the birth of Jesus Christ.
The Ali family from Lautoka, who have planned activities for this Christmas, believes that respect for every religion is important.
The eldest daughter, Nishaat Ali, said her family members were open-minded and they loved, appreciated, and respected all religions.
“In the Muslim religion, we call it Zakaat. And only during a festive season like Eid, Diwali, and Christmas but whenever we have enough to give, we must perform Zakaat as this is our Farz (responsibility) and must be performed at least once a year,” she said.
She said they never encountered any challenges when celebrating Christmas.
“I think this is because we never let others’ negative opinions affect our values and beliefs,” Nishaat said.
She personally believes that Christmas is not only to celebrate the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ but also a day in which everyone takes a day off from their busy schedule and make time for loved ones and the less fortunate.
“Christmas is not just an auspicious day celebrated by Christian friends but a day of joyous and merry celebration that unites each and every person despite which religion they belong to,” Nishaat said.
Nishaat is an artist. She has already received a few orders for Christmas.
“I like photography and sketching for years and I am happy to continue my passion this festive season,” she said.
Mother, Farzana Ali, said her family planned to get together with loved ones to have lovo for lunch and barbecue for dinner on Christmas Day.
Mrs. Ali has a cake business and her number of orders is increasing by the day heading into the Christmas period.
“I have received around 50 to 60 orders for Christmas and it is quite busy with about three to five orders a day from my regular customers.
“This is how I keep myself busy and put my effort into it,” Mrs. Ali said.