It was more than a chance to eat during daylight hours for the first time in a month.
It was a chance to celebrate the end of a holy month as well as to gather with members of a common community and reflect on what life has provided.
An estimated 3,000 members of the San Ramon Valley Islamic Center gathered Tuesday at the in Pleasanton for a festival celebrating the Muslim holiday of Eid.
"Everybody is in a very celebratory mood," said Faraz Sattar, an organizer with the Islamic Center.
"There is a strong feeling of a community coming together."
The holy month of Ramadan ended Monday. Muslims have not eaten between sunrise and sunset during that time.
The Eid marks the end of the religious observance. It is accompanied by prayers as well as a festival with plenty of food.
On Tuesday, several thousand Muslims from the San Ramon Valley and Tri-Valley gathered at the fairgrounds for the celebration.
The group ranged in age from infants in strollers to grandparents with canes. Some attendees wore colorful, traditional Islamic garb while others were dressed in casual, everyday work clothes.
Prayers began at 9:30 a.m. More than 400 men and boys filled a hall in the fairgrounds' center. The crowd spilled out into an open-air patio. Hundreds of women and girls also prayed in two adjacent halls.
A sermon was delivered by Dr. Nazeer Ahmad of Fremont. Afterward, attendees mingled, greeting other Islamic center members.
There were also food booths, including Mehran catering and New York Pizza. There were games and "bouncy houses" for the children, too.
Sattar said Eid is a joyous occasion because it celebrates the observance of fasting, one of the five pillars of Islam. It is also a chance for members of the center to see each other and celebrate.
Amna Suharwardy, a Danville resident who is an architect for a structural engineering firm, attended. Among other things, she was helping watch her friend's 2-year-old daughter.
Suharwardy said the Eid festival is a time for people to reflect on all that they have in life.
"It's a time to be thankful and grateful for what we have," she said.
Maaz Ali of San Ramon and Saif Khan of Danville were there together. The friends said the Eid is a cultural as well as a religious gathering.
"Everyone is happy and everyone is hungry," noted Ali, a guest services representative at Synergy Corporate Housing.
"This is a very humble, open celebration," added Saif, a business major at the University of California, Riverside.
Ejaz Marza, a Dublin resident, attended with his wife, two children and a nephew.
"Everybody is so happy. This is a community coming together," he said.
Ayesha Sheikhi, a marketing representative who lives in Danville, compared the significance of Eid to Christmas.
"It's the biggest holiday for us," she said. "It's the culmination of a very religious, holy month where we have been observing religion to a higher degree."
The celebration comes less than two weeks before the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks by Muslim extremists.
Sattar said the anniversary is on the minds of center members. He said the attacks not only killed thousands of people, it also put a stain on Islam.
"We are all Americans. Nine-eleven hit us as hard as any part of the community," he said. "It was violence done by a handful of people who hijacked our religion."
"It was innocent people who died," she said. "Your heart always goes out to innocent people."