Ramzan – Feast of Fasting
No food, no water, no sex, no smoking. That is not what comes to mind when one thinks of a festival, but Ramzan is more than just a festive occasion. Among the Muslim festivals, Ramzan ID or Ramadan month is regarded as supremely holy and assumes a place of unparalleled important in Muslims religious and spiritual life. It marks the month when the angel Gabriel first revealed the Quran, the sacred book of Muslims, to Prophet Muhammad, the messenger of God.
The ninth month of the Islamic calendar, Ramzan begins with the sighting of the crescent moon. The calendar is Lunar and has fewer days than the solar Gregorian calendar. Thus, it begins 10-11 days earlier every year and every 33 years, it occurs on the same date. Due to its dependence on the sighting of the moon, one never knows the precise date until the last moment.
Once the date is established, people begin preparing for the month of spiritual absolution. The most important feature of Ramzan is abstinence (Roza or Sawm) – not only from food and water in the period from dusk to dawn, but also from sins and pleasures. Roza is the fourth of the five ‘Pillars of Islam’. In addition, one msut give to charity and help others- Zakat is the fifth pillar of Islam. However, Ramzan is not just about fasting and fervent religiosity- the days of austerities are inevitable followed by nights of feasting and merrymaking.
A day during Ramzan begins before dawn, when people partake of sehri, the meal that equips one for a long day of fasting. It is customary to break the fast with dates and a glass of water. Dishes served for iftar vary from region to region and home to home, some of the most common items are chilli, brinjal, spinach and onion pakodas, samosas, fruit chaat or platter of seasonal fruits. Drinks such as lemonade and Roohafza are also popular. Across India, there is also trend of ‘ Roza iftar parties’. After iftar, people perform the Maghrib prayer, which is followed by dinner. Then, they had to mosques for the last prayer of the day, Isha.
In many towns, the markets are lively and crowded all night, especially on the last few days. Muslim localities of major cities such as Delhi and Hyderabad that you can experience the festival at its most exuberant.
Happy Eid-ul-Fitr on the end of Ramadan!