Celebrating Muslim Heritage Month at Noor Night in Franklin Township

A Night of Cultural Richness and Community Harmony

On January 14, the Franklin Township Senior Center at 505 Demott Lane, Somerset, NJ, transformed into a vibrant hub of cultural celebration for the inaugural Muslim Heritage Month. The event, titled “Noor Night,” was a resounding success, drawing hundreds of community members to partake in a rich tapestry of Islamic arts, crafts, music, dance, and culinary delights. The guests were welcomed by one of the evening’s organizers, Sara Didehvar, who acknowledged the depth and breadth of Muslim heritage, including that which is being cultivated locally.

Keynote Insights and Community Spirit
The event’s keynote speaker, U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, emphasized the significance of the occasion, highlighting the importance of mutual respect and support within the community. She reflected on the ongoing crises in the Middle East, underscoring the relevance of such events in fostering understanding and compassion.

A proclamation was also presented by Hira Shaikh, Senior aide to Governor Phil Murphy, commemorating January as Muslim Heritage Month.

Mayor Phil Kramer expressed his pride in being part of this event, celebrating the diverse Muslim culture, particularly in Franklin. He noted that Franklin Township stands as a testament to the possibilities of peace and harmony, recognizing and appreciating the uniqueness of each individual.

A Feast for the Senses and the Soul
The evening was a feast for the senses, featuring exhibitions of Islamic arts and crafts, alongside performances of singing and dancing, including a mesmerizing Sufi whirling dancer and culminated in a Palestinian Dhabke dance, in which many guests also joined. The event was not just a visual and auditory delight but also a culinary one, with delicious food donated by sponsors.

The Intent of Noor Night
Viq Pervaaz, one of the event organizers, expressed his hopes for the attendees: to leave enlightened about Muslim heritage and culture, satisfied with the delicious food, and fulfilled by meeting new people. He wished for everyone’s hearts to be filled with peace, hope, and prosperity for 2024.

A Gathering of Dignitaries and Community Members
The event was graced by the presence of State Assemblyman Joe Danielsen, Somerset County officials, including Somerset County Commission Director Shanel Robinson and Commissioner Melonie Marano, Somerset County Sheriff Darren Russo, Somerset County Surrogate Tina Jalloh, Township Council members Alex Kharazi and Shepa Uddin, Board of Education members including President Ardaman Singh, Vice President Sami Shaban, and Bill Grippo, and the township Parks and Recreation Director Beau Byrtus, Council member Ed Potosnak and Deputy Mayor, and Superior Court Judge Dalya Youssef.

Reflections on Noor Night was more than just a celebration; it was a powerful statement of unity, understanding, and respect. It showcased the beauty and richness of Muslim heritage and its integral role in the tapestry of our diverse community. As we move forward into 2024, events like Noor Night remind us of the strength found in our collective diversity and the importance of celebrating and understanding all cultures, through which we can enrich inclusivity.

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