Lakshmi Nanda Madhusoodhan , IIK Young Contributor
Sunday, May 13, 2018

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. During the month, Muslims worldwide practice Sawm – fasting from sunrise to sunset. Ramadan begins after the sighting of the new moon, which is announced by the Ramadan Crescent Sighting Committee. It lasts approximately 30 days based on visual sightings of the crescent moon. Sawm in Ramadan is also regarded as one of the five pillars of Islam, the other pillars are Shahada- Faith, Salah - Prayer, Zakat - Charity and Hajj- Pilgrimage to Holy Mecca.

Why do people observe Ramadan? Well there are many reasons. This 30 days fasting is done to celebrate the first declaration of the Holy Quran to Prophet Muhammad PBUH according to Islamic Beliefs. While fasting, Muslims develop high character. They hold back themselves on doing sinful actions like insulting, cursing, bullying, fighting etc. This fasting helps them realize the pain of poverty, thus making them into charity and good deeds. Fasting also helps to develop the real spirit of social belonging, brotherhood and equality in a person before God. When people fast they feel they are uniting to the whole Muslim community which makes one fifth of the world population. Fasting helps a person to be more patient and unselfish. Muslims also get engaged in recital of the verses of the Holy Quran, devotion and worship etc. It teaches them to be moderate and balanced in all aspects of life. When Ramadan arrives, it is said that the gates of Paradise are opened and the gates of hell are locked up and devils are put in chains.

The exemptions to fasting are travel, severe illness, pregnancy etc. Ramadan fasting is safe for healthy people, but those with medical conditions should seek medical advice. The fasting period is usually associated with weight loss but the weight tends to return afterwards. In some countries, it has shown that crime rates have been dropped in the month of Ramadan. Decreases in crime rates have been reported by the police in some cities in Turkey like Istanbul and Konya and the Eastern province of Saudi Arabia.

Drinking, smoking, eating etc. is not encouraged and lead to severe punishments in some of the Arab countries. In here, Kuwait, according to law, the penalty is a fine of no more than 100 Kuwaiti dinars, or jail for no more than one month, or both penalties, for those seen eating, drinking or smoking during Ramadan daytime.
Muslims continue to work during Ramadan. The Prophet Muhammad PBUH has said that it is important to keep a balance between worship and work. In Middle East including Kuwait, however, working hours are shortened during Ramadan at work and school.

In some Muslim countries today, lights are strung up in public squares, and across city streets, to add to the light, colours and festivities of the month. Lanterns have become ideal decorations welcoming the month of Ramadan. In Kuwait Girgian is celebrated during the month of Ramadan Kareem. In this celebration children dress up in fancy or traditional costumes and they usually go in groups to their relatives and neighbourhood. They sing in chorus a song about Girgian and as the song is over they are rewarded with a small sweet bags or decorated sweet boxes which contains various types of nuts, sweets, gums and candies. Nowadays, Girgian is becoming more and more popular at public places and shopping malls.

At sunset, families hurry for the fast-breaking meal known as Iftar. Dates are usually the first food to break the fast as according to their tradition, The Prophet Muhammad PBUH broke the fast with three dates.

Food tips:-
In Ramadan the diets are radically altered as the fasting people eat only during Suhoor (pre- dawn) and Iftar (sunset). The food should be well balanced and contain items from vegetables, cereals, meats, dairy products and fresh fruits. Make effort to drink at least 8 glasses of fluids daily before dawn and after sundown. Fluids include juices, milk, beverages and soups but water is the best choice. You should also cut down on caffeinated drinks like coffee, tea and colas as these have a diuretic effect and promotes fluid loss.

The end of Ramadan is called Eid al Fitr. It marks the end of Ramadan and the beginning of the next lunar month, the tenth month of the Islamic calendar, Shawwal. Eid Al Fitr has a festive nature as it marks the completion of the 30 days fasting and back to eating and drinking etc.

Lakshmi Nanda Madhusoodhanan
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Express your comment on this article

Wednesday, June 6, 2018
Dear Lakshmi Nanda,.
Very good. Keep on writing. There is good narrator in you... All the best

Wednesday, May 16, 2018
Ramadan kareem

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