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Friday, 21 August 2009

Ramazan

I am writing this post at 5 am, and I'm very tired because the heat and a couple of mosquito bites kept me awake until about 2.30 am.





I had completely forgotten that today is the first day of Ramazan (Ramadan in other countries)..the Islamic holy month of fasting.






It's not that I take part in this ritual, but I have no choice when it comes to being woken up at around 3.30 am every morning for the next month, by the customary drummer who tours the village, slowly banging his drum until he is sure everyone is awake. This is to give them time to eat a large breakfast (sahur) before the call to prayer at around 5 am.






In the past the fast (oruç) was supposed to start as soon as the Imam holding one piece of white and one piece of black thread could tell the two apart in the daylight. Nowadays it's more scientific...televisions announce the exact moment to start fasting..along with the first call to prayer from the mosque. I often wonder why, in the 21st century, the ritual of the drummer isn't done away with, and people just use alarm clocks...but that's just me being selfish and not wanting my sleep interrupted. It's a custom which I'm sure will continue until the end of time.






Strict muslims take fasting very seriously. Nothing must pass their lips from sunrise to sunset. No water (difficult in this heat). Ramazan takes place 11 days earlier each year...so of course it's inevitable that it will occur during the hottest part of the summer, at some time. Apart from refraining from eating or drinking, they mustn't smoke, or even lick a postage stamp or take a headache tablet. Sex is also forbidden during daylight hours.






Not everyone needs to fast. Some people are exempt...children, the sick, pregnant women,the elderly or travellers. Menstruating women are not supposed to fast but have to make up the missed days later.






The break of fast meal at sunset (iftar) is somewhat of a celebration, and a time for family and neighbours to get together. Often another huge meal is eaten before bedtime, so it's not unusual for people to gain weight during Ramazan! Temporary tents are set up in cities around the country for the poorer members of society to be given an iftar meal.






We foreigners are not expected to take part in fasting, but most of us, out of respect, would not dream of eating, drinking, or lighting up a cigarette in public during daylight hours. In any case I'd feel a bit conspicuous as well as embarrassed at partaking when everyone else can't.



Naturally, people are not at their best when fasting. Tempers are often frayed and people do become a little light-headed and clumsy. I learnt from a very bad past experience, never to get my hair cut during Ramazan....my hairdresser at the time was tired, hungry and bad-tempered and my hair suffered as a result.



So I have a month of the drummer waking me up far too early...followed soon after by a visit by the in-laws. Isn't life wonderful? ;-)




13 comments:

  1. Funnily enough I was about to write something about Ramazan yesterday, Ayak. It was work related. I´ll try get cracking on it later today if I get the time.

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  2. Oh good! I'll look forward to it.

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  3. I swear on everything bichon related that I did my latest post before coming to see yours. We've both mentioned mosquitoes!

    I bet you are tired - I'd be very grumpy to be woken up by religious stuff.

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  4. Yes I just read your post FF...bloody mosquitos...and waspa..aaargh!

    I'm shattered today...only another month to go! I kind of don't object to their religious rituals. However at some point during the month the drummer will come around during the day to collect donations from people to thank him for his drumming! I would gladly pay him NOT to bash his drum every morning but I doubt he would appreciate that.

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  5. You are so informative! I totally love your new background!

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  6. I must admit Ayak the tale of the grumpy hairdresser did give me a giggle. I like the sound of the big celebration meal at the break of the fast, lovely having everyone together

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  7. Mel: You say such nice things...Thankyou xxx

    Jazzy: It was a very short hairstyle so I couldn't even do anything to make it look better!

    Yes the gathering of people is lovely. Although I have noticed that my neighbours, who are older, are not around for iftar, so I would imagine they are probably with sons and daughters in Milas. So it's a bit quiet here at the moment.

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  8. The things that I learn from your blog - absolutely fascinating!
    I'm sitting here, wondering how people can endure a whole month living like that, though. From what you report, there is a big meal after sunset, another big meal before going to bed (that should be enough to ensure that most people will sleep rather poorly, to begin with) - but then, they're woken up at 3.30 in the NIGHT to get up again?!
    It's a miracle that people become "a little light-headed and clumsy", under the circumstances.
    I'd become delusional and murderous!
    You're a tower of strength.

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  9. I also become a little murderous Astro! My body clock is all out of sync. I'm awake most of the night and napping during the day during this time. It takes me ages to get back to normal!

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  10. Our builder's wife told me that she dreaded Ramazan....not for the fasting, she could cope with that, but getting up at some unearthly hour to get food on the table before dawn having been up all night getting food on the table after dusk!
    Worse, her husband could not smoke or go to bet on the horses, so he was...insofar as such a sweet man could be...not nice to know.
    Even worse, none of them were really believers, it was peer pressure. She said if they lived far away from north african muslims they would just forget about the whole thing.

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  11. Oh I can totally understand their predicament. Most of it here is peer pressure. Although I've just got back in from a shopping trip to Milas and was surprised to see a fair number of people eating and smoking. Perhaps this area isn't as strict as others I've lived in.

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  12. Lucknow where I live has a high proportion of Muslims in comparison with other places in India and there are both Shia and Sunni mosques within hearing distance. But if I'm asleep during the muezzin's call, I just stay asleep.

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  13. Oh yes I normally sleep through it Gael. I've got so used to it that I rarely notice it day or night. It's just the Ramazan drummer outside my window that's a problem. The dogs think it's a good excuse to bark too. Thank goodness it's only for a month.

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