The Atmosphere of Ramadan

Ramadan brings with it a unique atmosphere. Here’s a glimpse into how Muslims the world over take to this month of fasting:

When Ramadaan starts in Malaysia, local authorities sprinkle streets with water, clean public squares and hang electric lamps in the main streets. Tanzania starts the Ramadan welcome two weeks in advance as streets are decked with decorations and electric lights, and Musjids and neighboring shops beautified.

The first few days of Ramadan see Chilean Muslims making family visits while children enjoy new toys and sweets.

As Ramadan rotates through the seasons, the northern hemisphere is now experiencing longer days. Londoners started fasting at 4:02am and ended at 7:51pm, a total of almost 16 hours, while New Yorkers began the first fast at 4:41am and ended at 7:33pm. In Port Elizabeth, South Africa the first fast started at 5:06am and ended at 6:02pm, a mere 13 hours.

In Sudan, young men beat drums to wake people for Sehri. Cairo reverberates to the sound of a canon fired every dawn and sunset, declaring the time for breaking the fast (Iftar) and Sehri. In Pakistan fast is broken with Iftar sirens and Azan.

Tradition of another type is that in Jeddah shopping malls operate 5pm-2am and in the last 10 days of Ramadan until 4am!

Arguably the happiest time for a fasting Muslim is Iftar. This brings out the best in communities worldwide. After the Sunnah dates and water, people indulge in an amazing variety: Traditional Iftar foods in Saudi Arabia are Harees: meat and wheat puree and Thareed: meat stew poured over a bowl of thin wafer bread.

Bangladeshis partake of such delicacies as Beguni (made of brinjal and pulse powder), Chhola boot (fried and spiced chickpeas), and Piyaju (made with finely chopped onion with lentil paste). Traffic jams often occur leading up to Maghrib time in Indonesia and people invite orphans to eat with them. Burmese Muslims break their fast with dates and water accompanied with poetry reading and foods like Lury fera, a dish of bread, rice and chicken.

Whatever the regional differences, all Muslims revel in coming closer to God in Ramadan.