Breaking Fast with Disney Cast Members for Ramadan and Eid

Kanayo Uchemefuna

by , Employee Culture Communications Manager

This week, Muslim cast and employees celebrated Eid al-Fitr, the official end of the month of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting. This religious festival marks the end of fasting from sunrise to sunset that takes place during Ramadan. Cast members from Salaam, Disney’s Muslim Business Employee Resource Group, brought us along for their month-long fasting journey, sharing traditions, memories, and practices that define the sacred celebration of Ramadan and Eid. A few new traditions include Disney’s first-ever Iftars hosted by employees across the U.S.!

For  Sana Siddiq, Disney Consumer Products Hardlines Commercialization Coordinator, Ramadan means keeping up with childhood traditions at home, work, and beyond!

This is the first year Salaam could host two official Iftars, the meal that marks ending the fast, one in Los Angeles and the other in New York City! In addition, a group of cast members also came together to hold Iftar in Orlando. I attended the Los Angeles Iftar, and it was an amazing night! We had a chance to officially meet cast members who joined the company during the pandemic, re-connect with friends, and enjoy fantastic food from local Muslim vendors in Los Angeles and Orange County, Ca.

Ramadan has always meant spirituality, community, and being of service to those in need. It’s a time for self-improvement and self-reflection. During Ramadan, my leader was a great ally! I maintained a flexible work schedule with her support to accommodate my traditions and practices.

For Samina Kermalli, Disney Destinations Business Support Manager, Ramadan means celebrating with her neighbors and sharing her culture with fellow cast members.

I grew up in a Muslim country, so Ramadan was celebrated by everyone. My favorite memory is early in the morning, a man would walk the streets, loudly beating on a drum to wake everyone up for ‘suhoor.’ Suhoor is the last meal you have before starting the fast at sunrise. Everyone in the neighborhood wakes up, eats suhoor, prays, and then goes back to sleep. Before breaking our fast, women from the community exchange food at night. I remember taking trays of my mom’s yummy cooking to share with everyone on our street. Our table would be filled with delicious food from the neighbors just in time to break our fast. There is something to be said about celebrating the holiday with everyone in the neighborhood.

My coworkers are always interested in knowing about Ramadan and Eid, and I always share information. I’ve enjoyed sharing the holiday with my coworkers at Disney. One year, my coworkers fasted with me all day. He did great! The hardest part for him was not having any water. Yup, not even water is allowed! My team is very supportive and understanding when I take a day off here and there so I can make time for extra prayers.

Yousef Kareem, Disney Signature Experiences Internal Communications Manager, defines Ramadan as precious moments with family and friends.

Growing up, Ramadan was all about spending time with family. I’d get to eat the ‘special’ traditional foods and desserts. This year, it was great to see cast members from all over the company gather for Iftar. It creates a great sense of community, knowing so many people are celebrating Ramadan at the company. I love to make traditional Eid baked goods for my team. They may not celebrate Ramadan and Eid, but they get to taste a bit of the holiday. My leadership has been great about allowing me to educate the entire team about Ramadan and not scheduling meetings during my “hangry” hours of fasting.

All the magic is in the togetherness and camaraderie according to Maha Shah, Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Senior Analyst.

The minute the month hits, you feel a sense of calm, connection, and clarity. I come from a Pakistani household where our Ramadan table includes dates, samosas, patties (puff pastry with meat), pakoras (fried and battered veggies), and lots of juices! Breaking fast together is an intimate experience with family and friends and brings us all together.

My favorite Iftar was having kabab rolls with my team members and seeing the enjoyment on their faces. My leadership and fellow cast went above and beyond to accommodate me throughout the month of April. For work potlucks, team members brought containers for me to take food home to enjoy once I broke my fast. I am beyond grateful to have an amazing team of cast members, friends, and family!