It is the time of the year where millions of Muslims all over the world observe Ramzan or Ramadan. It occurs during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and is considered to be the holiest month of the year.

Fasting, a crucial aspect of Ramzan, is observed to humble oneself and serves as a reminder of those less fortunate who live in hunger and deprivation. The fast starts from dawn and ends at dusk. Children, pregnant women, the old and the ailing are exempted from this. Instead, they are required to feed at least one poor person for every day that they have missed fasting.

Each day, the fast is broken with dates and water. The meal that follows is known as Iftar, which is shared with family and friends. Some of the popular delicacies served at this time are mouth watering samosa's, pathre and chicken curry, cutlets, biryani, mutton kebabs, falooda and a large variety of sweets. The family will once again come together before sunrise to eat the final meal or Sehri before beginning the fast.

During this month, there is the occurrence of Lailatul Qadr or the Night of Power. Prayers offered during this night is equivalent to 83 years of worship, which is more than a lifetime. It is believed that on this day, the first verses of the Koran were revealed to Prophet Muhammed. It occurs on an odd numbered night in the last ten days of Ramzan, so over-night prayers or Taraweeh during the last 10 days are a common practice. At the end of Ramzan, each person must give Zakaat al-fitr which is staple food, locally available to the less fortunate in the family or in the locality. Traditionally, Zakaat is calculated as 2.6kgs of rice and pulses per family member. Starting from the dawn of Eid, one measure of rice is given to every needy person who comes to the doorstep regardless of religious preferences. It is imperative that Zakaat is given before the final prayer of Eid. The month of Ramzan is most important for every Muslim. It is a time to bond with family, attain moral discipline through fasting, to be humble in his gains, to share his wealth with the less fortunate and to get closer to Allah.

SNEHA KOTIAN

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