Valley Muslims plan Eid carnival

They’ll soon be flipping Harris Ranch halal burgers at the Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno.Yum.

The burgers are the most popular food item at the center’s annual Eid Carnival, which this year will be 11 a.m.-4 p.m. next Saturday.

No matter the religion, food unites people. But it is especially meaningful at the Eid carnival, which celebrates the completion of Ramadan, the Islamic holy period of fasting for 29 to 30 days.

Central San Joaquin Valley Muslims began fasting Aug. 22. No food or drinks from sunup to sundown. Their last day of fasting is expected to be today. That means break-the-fast Eid al-Fitr events can begin as early as Sunday.

However, many mosques, including the Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno, delay Eid events such as carnivals until Saturdays, when more people can attend. Previous Eid carnivals have drawn 500 to 1,000 people to the center at 2111 E. Nees Ave.

There, Muslims have foods that are halal, the term for meat prepared in accordance with Islamic rules. Indian-Pakistani, Middle Eastern Arabic and Persian foods also will be added to this year’s menu.Muslims also devote the event to thanking God for blessings and lessons learned during their Ramadan experience. Usually, Muslims gain a deeper understanding of those who are hungry and are moved to make charitable donations to the needy.

Details: (559) 297-9535.

Sikh films on tap

A Sikh film festival is on an eight-city, California tour this month and October. Today, the Visions of Truth festival stops in Fresno.

The free event will be held noon-6 p.m. at the Leon and Pete Peters Educational Center at California State University, Fresno.

It features six films and three musical shorts, calling attention to the “third ghallughara,” considered a tragic event in Sikh history. It is when the Indian army invaded a Sikh gurdwara, the Darbar Sahib complex, in Amristar, Punjab, in June 1984.

The festival is presented by the Jakara Movement, which works toward training Sikh youths to volunteer and become activists in their communities.

Details: (888) 525-2721.

St. Elia countdown

The area’s Roman Catholic community always seems to have a good time at Fresno St. Elia celebrations honoring the patron saint of Maschito, Italy.

Italian food, Italian music — arrivederci.

This year’s event is the 99th, beginning with Mass at noon Sunday at St. Alphonsus Church, 351 E. Kearney Blvd.

After Mass, family members escort the statue of St. Elia in a special procession. The honor goes to the highest-bidding family. Monies raised are used to present the celebrations and house the statue at St. Anthony of Padua Church.

Family members no longer carry the statue. Frank S. Caglia had a cart made to transport the statue more than 20 years ago. Caglia died in June 2007. He was 95.

The Italian dinner will be served at 3 p.m., followed by the Italian music and dancing. Cost is $25 adults, or $10 for children ages 12 and under.

Details: (559) 250-3617 or 642-3107.

Hymns, circa 1939

Members of First United Methodist Church of Selma have put a lot of creative thought into the church’s 70th anniversary celebration of its current downtown site, 1702 Cross St.

The tudor-styled buildings were built in 1939. So a special service at 10 a.m. Sunday will feature hymns, such as “Jesus Shall Reign” and “Come, Thou Almighty King,” sung at the initial services.Mariellen Sawada Yoshino, Fresno district superintendent of the United Methodist Church, will give the special message.

Details: (559) 896-0284.

Ron Orozco covers religion for The Bee. He can be reached at or (559) 441-6304.