Muslims all over the world observe Ramadan, which is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar, as a holy month. It is marked by intense fasting – from dusk to dawn – and nightly feasts.
The devotees fast to come closer to God and to remind them of the suffering of the less fortunate. They often donate to charities during this month and feed the hungry.
To prepare for the fast, Muslims eat what is commonly called “suhoor,” a pre-dawn meal of power foods to get them through the day.
After a sunset prayer, a large feast known as “iftar” is shared with family and friends. Iftar is a social event as much as it is a gastronomical adventure. Across the Arab world, juices made from apricots are a staple at Ramadan iftars. In South Asia and Turkey, yogurt-based drinks are popular. Across the Muslim world, mosques and aid organisations set up tents and tables for the public to eat free iftar meals on every night of Ramadan.
Ramadan will begin for Muslims in India after sighting the crescent moon on May 16, Wednesday. Depending on the time they see the moon, fasting will commence from May 17 (Thursday) or May 18 (Friday). This is in accordance with the Islamic lunar calendar, in which a new month begins after the moon sighting on the 29th Shaban of every month. If the moon is not seen on the 29th, that month completes 30 days and Ramadan begins on the next day.
Ramadan in Saudi Arabia starts either from May 16, Wednesday if the moon is sighted on Tuesday, May 15 or May 17, Thursday if the moon is sighted on Wednesday, May 16. For UAE, the holy month of Ramadan will begin from May 17.