NATICK, MA–Noureen Design, an art-based family owned business run by the Indian-born, Framingham, MA-based couple Noureen Sultana and Waheed Khan, is hosting its Fifth Chand Raat Eid Festival on Thursday June 14, 2018 at the Crowne Plaza in Natick, MA. The event, from 6 pm until midnight, is free and open to the public.
The festival is intended as a safe space for Bostonians to share cultures and to create a sense of togetherness by celebrating the traditional South Asian festival of Chand Raat (‘Night of the Moon’) — a Hindi/Urdu term that commemorates the sighting of the new moon.
“The aim of this event is to bring together people from different backgrounds under one roof and build bridges between religions and nations. It’s about building community by creating a place for people to meet and share their culture,” said Mr. Khan.
Chand Raat kicks off the colorful celebrations of the Muslim festival of Eid-ul-Fitr, commemorated in South Asia in a uniquely South Asian manner. It marks the end of the Muslim month of fasting — Ramzan as South Asians call Ramadan. In Noureen and Waheed’s native India, people across religious communities, Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and others celebrate Eid with Muslim friends and neighbors.
Sighting the new moon is the signal to greet each other “Eid Mubarak” and start preparing desserts for Eid. It also heralds the last round of shopping for new clothes and jewelry. Women and girls rush to get hands decorated with mehndi (henna).
Henna application, an intricate ceremonial body art form of temporary tattoos, is common to many cultures, particularly in the Middle East and South Asia. Applied on celebratory occasions such as weddings and births, it symbolizes good luck and prosperity for the future.
A cross-cultural enterprise with ancient roots all the way in India, Noureen Design has been nominated as a finalist for the Massachusetts Family Business Award conducted by Northeastern University Center for Family Business, for three years in a row. They are proud to be included in a list of nominees that include some of the biggest family owned businesses in the state.
Their first Chand Raat Eid Festival in 2012 drew around 200 people. Last year, nearly 2,300 Bostonians participated in the event. The Noureen Design team, which now includes the couple’s sons Danish, 14, and Mahid, 10, expects even more people to attend the upcoming event on June 14 this year.
There will also be an array of delicious food and drink for sale as well as a dazzling range of clothing and jewelry items by a variety of vendors.
An exciting addition to this year’s Festival is 2 free Tablets offered through a raffle that all guests entering the venue will automatically be entered to win. To claim the prize, the winner must be on the premises when the raffle is drawn.
The event highlight is traditionally the mehndi (henna) application. Wielding cones like those used for icing cakes, Noureen and her team deftly apply mehndi, “painting” delicate floral and other designs onto clients’ hands.
Representing the fourth generation of Artists in her family, Noureen herself learned the art at a very young age from her mother Zaheer Unisa Begum, who in turn mastered the practice under the guidance of her own mother, Mahmooda Khatoon. It took Noureen nearly three years to learn it. A trained architect, she never thought of doing it as a business while in India.
Nor did she expect her American-born sons to develop a passion for it, though she was keen for them to know their culture. Watching her and helping at Noureen Design events, the boys not only love henna but have learnt to apply it.
Breaking gender stereotypes, their participation makes for an extraordinary aspect of the family business. Danish wants to be an engineer and Mahid wants to be a doctor. But they also love skillfully and spontaneously decorating dozens of hands at such events – and drawing a crowd of spectators surprised to see boys applying henna.
Waheed, an accountant by profession, migrated to Boston from his native India in 2001. Noureen joined him the following year after their wedding. When she came here, she found there was no one to do skillful henna applications. “When a bride gets married, this is one of the most important things,” she says.
The couple launched Noureen Designs in 2005 to enable Noureen to continue her art and cater to the growing market for henna design, encouraged by an increasing interest in diversity and multi-culturalism.
Noureen Design has continued to grow while remaining true to its roots as a small family owned and operated business. Besides the annual Chand Raat and Eid ul Adha, another major Muslim festival, they also cater to weddings (https://indianewengland.com/2017/04/booking-henna-artist-big-wedding-day-ceremonies) and plan to do other South Asian events like Karva Chaut, a primarily Hindu festival.
The flagship event of the business remains the annual Chand Raat Eid Festival. Waheed manages the logistics of this popular happening, while Noureen’s team lynch-pin role of applying henna to a host of eager clients.
Noureen Design’s Chand Raat Eid Festival is fast emerging as a symbol of multiculturalism, diversity and artistic excellence in the Boston area.