Ramadan, also known as Ramazan or Ramzan, is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. It is celebrated all across the globe by Muslims as a month of fasting (called Roza in India and Pakistan), prayer, reflection and community. It takes place for four weeks and two days – during which the followers of Islam fast between dawn and sunset. They also pray for peace and guidance, give back to the community in charity, engage in humanitarian activities such as feeding the underprivileged and introspect to enlighten their souls. Before the Roza, the pre-dawn meal is called Suhur, and the night feast marking the end of the fast is known as Iftar. Iftar traditionally starts by taking a bite of dates and drinking water. It leads to a sumptuous meal of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian spread.
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This year, Ramadan is expected to start on the evening of March 22 (Wednesday), following the sighting of the moon over Mecca. Ramadan 2023 will end on Friday, April 21, 2023 (Friday), and Eid al-Fitr should be celebrated on Saturday, April 22, 2023 (Saturday).
Moon Sighting Significance:
The crescent moon holds a lot of religious significance in Islam. The moon sighting denotes the start and the end of the month of Ramadan. Before Ramadan begins, people and religious authorities look at the night sky to view the crescent moon. The crescent moon sighting is a tradition which has been followed for years in the religion. The month of Ramadan is preceded by the month of Shaaban. The month of Ramadan begins after sunset on day 29 of the month of Shaaban when the moon sighting traditions are followed.
Ramadan holds a special significance in the Islamic religion as it is considered the time when the Quran was first revealed to Prophet Muhammad. The fasting of Ramadan is essentially a basic and minimal requirement for the fulfilment of one’s faith in Islam. The period of Ramadan is considered a spiritual journey for self-reflection, spiritual growth, and remembering the teachings of Prophet Mohammed. Followers believe that fasting (Roza) helps them connect with the divine power and strengthens their faith.
During Ramadan, Muslims pray to Allah and observe fasts as a symbol of devotion towards the Almighty. For this month, Muslims let go of worldly pleasures and extravagant behaviour and spending and observe the fast along with their friends and family. They wake up early in the morning to eat Suhoor or Sehri – dates, fruits, milk, and sweet vermicelli. Then till sunset they do not eat or drink anything.
In the evening, people break their fast with dates or water. This ritual is followed by Iftar, a meal that includes all sorts of delicacies such as kebabs, tikkas, biryani, and nihari and desserts such as sheer khurma, kheer, phirni, shahi tukda, and more.