Ramadan is a holy month for the Muslim community. Muslims dedicate an entire month to the services of God. Prayers, fasting, feasting, and spending time with family and friends, giving alms and abstinence from desires are the key activities during this time. Last year, the holy month was one of its kind experience, with all mosques closed, most shops shut and people confining themselves to the confines of their homes. This year, the situation is much better, as mosques are open for prayers, but a 10-hour long curfew is in place at night in most places across India.
Ramadan is the ninth month in the Muslim lunar calendar. Healthy adult Muslims fast in Ramadan from dawn until dusk. This includes abstaining from drinking, eating, immoral acts and anger. Other acts of worship such as prayer, reading the Quran and charity are also encouraged during the holy month. Muslims also believe that the Quran was revealed in Ramadan.
During the holy month, Muslims wake up early to eat a pre-dawn meal called suhoor, commonly known as sahri and they break their fast with a meal referred to as iftar. It is common for mosques to host large iftars, especially for the poor and needy. Night prayers called Tarawih are also held in mosques after iftar.
Different cultures have different traditions during Ramadan, whether it is a special food they must cook, or eating iftar with the extended family. Islamic tenets such as generosity inspired most of these traditions, including sharing food and inviting guests over for iftar.
However, this year Ramadan will most certainly be a less festive time, amid the second wave of coronavirus pandemic as all nations, including Muslims, take precautions to curb the spread of the virus by banning or limiting social gatherings and maintaining social distance in mosques.
Of course, all traditions and rituals are not essential to observe the Ramadan fast. One can remain at home, follow practices and spend time with the family. Perhaps the coronavirus pandemic has been a blessing in disguise, removing the rampant commercialization of Ramadan witnessed in recent years and returning the holy month to what it actually is – an act of worship, empathizing with the less fortunate and exercising self-discipline.