The sighting of the new crescent moon marks the beginning of the Holy month of Ramadan. Ramadan is observed on the ninth month of the islamic calendar. It is a period of prayer, fasting, and charity. Muslims observe a strict fast from dawn to dusk and do not take even a sip of water. They also abstain from other practices like drinking, smoking etc.
They have a meal just after sundown and again just before sunrise. The evening meal or iftar as its called is breaking the fast with dates and water. Meats, fresh fruits and vegetables, cheese, breads are part of the Ramadan meal. It is the time when the family or community comes together as a whole and spends time. Families bond over food and prayers. The other main meal is the suhoor which is a rich and hearty meal as it has to last through the day. It is an interesting mix of celebrations and formal religious practices. In the evenings families and friends visit each other and indulge in food, fun and laughter.
The Ramadan month of fasting help inculcate values of self control, self discipline and generosity. The word Ramadan is taken from an Arabic word and means intense or scorching heat. Small children, the elderly, pregnant women, new moms and the sick are exempt from fasting. Giving to charity is very important and many families put together packages with basic cooking items like sugar, oil, flour, rice to give away at the start of Ramadan month.
Fasting and praying form the fundamentals of Islam religion and beliefs. The Holy Quran was revealed to Prophet Mohammed during this sacred month making it even more special. The sighting of the next crescent moon marks the end of the month long fast and is celebrated as Eid al Fitr. One of the most important and joyous occasions, Eid usually begins with early morning prayers, a trip to the mosque and is followed by celebrations with family and friends.