Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The holy month of Ramzan

[Continuing on my Festivals of Bombay series. This is the month of Ramzan, and for the last few weeks, the cry of the muezzin has served as my alarm clock- there is something strangely soothing about faith, even if it is not your own.]

The holy month of Ramzan. When the faithful fast from sunrise to sunset. Not a morsel of food passes their lips, nor a drop of water quenches their thirst. And after evening prayers, they break their fast with a single date, as the Prophet Mohammad is said to have done.

My friend's teenage daughter kept the fast for a day last year. Her father is Hindu, her mother Catholic. But her friends are Muslim, and she wanted to do it with them. She barely survived the day- her friends do it 30 days in a row.
Such is true faith.


A drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.


Diandra said...

I was going to embark on a rant about Ramadan, but I think I will spare you. (^v^)

(One of my colleagues, who had intestinal cancer, had to go to hospital last weekend because he insisted on fasting nevertheless. Tell me about "true faith", the Quran states that people with diseases shall not fast... *steams* Hypocrites, each and everyone.)

Saumya said...

Wow; I am always in awe of people who fast!! I love all of these Bombay drabbles :) Very well done!

Margot Kinberg said...

Rayna - Thanks for this post. People really are devoted to religion, aren't they? It plays such a vital role in human life. That, in itself, is fascinating.

Mason Canyon said...

Rayna, from your post I am learning about the world around me that I might not have otherwise known. Thank you.

Thoughts in Progress

Jan Morrison said...

Wonderful drabble! And I love to hear about the culture around you...Jan Morrison

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Last year in our office there was a young Muslim secretary who faithfully kept the Ramadan fast every day, even as we were all eating goodies around her. I know I couldn't have managed that!

Anonymous said...

Amazing to hear of people's determination when fasting.

Theresa Milstein said...

No food or drink from sunrise to sunset must be extremely difficult. When I student taught, there was a Muslim in the class. A student brought in cake during class, so I wrapped a piece home to have later. I'm sure it was hard for him to watch everyone else.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Fasting is tough. I doubt I'd make it all day for thirty days.

Hart Johnson said...

I had as boss that used to fast for one of the Jewish holy weeks and she said while she wasn't normally very religious, it helped her feel more a part of her faith, which makes sense--having a physical reminder constantly gnawing at you. I defitely think it can be taken overboard, but the 'collective sacrifice' can be a powerful bond as well.

Tina said...

Thanks for another tidbit of your culture. Always fascinating. And btw, really enjoyed reading at the blogs you tagged this weekend!

Mary said...

I know I couldn't fast like that. Four days a year is all I can manage.-- And they aren't in row.
Thank you for the tag.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Only one date? Now that's holding to a fast.

Clarissa Draper said...

Wow, that's one way to lose weight. But yes, in all seriousness, it's a true show of faith.


Googlover/keishua said...

Well, I am not much better than your daughter with my lent fast. The muslims I know take it seriously but don't seem to complain about it. I went to meal at the end of the holiday once and it was beautiful. Kind of jubilant.

Karen Walker said...

There is one day in Judaism, Yom Kippur, where you fast from Sunset to sunset. I'm hypoglycemic, so I can't do it, even if I wanted to, which I don't because I don't practice Judaism. Faith is wonderful. I just don't believe in a God who wants us to hurt ourselves in service to Him/Her.
Thanks for sharing about Indian culture, Rayna. It is always interesting.

Deb and Barbara said...

My younger daughter fasted in support of famine relief last year. She went 24 hours and totally managed. She felt connected to the people she was supporting and those with whom she fasted. It's own kind of religion.

I can't go a few hours without eating. Food -- my most taken-for-granted privilege.

Jules said...

Wonderful sharing of your culture Rayna. The fasting always has amazed me.

You were right on target with your comment. It is your children that will create more memories for you. :)
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Rayna M. Iyer said...

@ Diandra- in your place, I would rant away too. And to break the sacred commandments to satisfy your ego- that is not faith, is it?

@ Saumya- at one level, I do admire them their faith.

@ Margot- Fascinating is the word. I can imagine being moved by my kids, or my family, but faith? Maybe I am just lacking in that space.

@ Mason- my pleasure. I've lived in India all my life, and am still discovering things.

@ Jan- thank you.

@ Debthat is really something, isn't it?

@ Fiona - I am in awe!

@ Theresa- and to do it 30 days in a row. Wow.

@ Alex- I am sure I will not even try.

@ Hart- I do know what she is getting at. It is more a question of self control for some some people. And that is perhaps more admirable than blind faith.

@ Tina- thank you. This was something I discovered only recently- had a whole bunch of Muslim collegues at the last organisation I was with

@ Mary- without food is one thing, but without water. Phew.

@ Diane- sorry, wasn't clear. The break the fast with a single date, then have their feast.

@ Clarissa- except, they put it all back by feasting :-(

@ Googlover/keishua- the feasting is the best part, I think

@ Karen- I do know that Islam prohibits the old, the ill, the pregnant and the lactating from fasting. But often, they do fast, and cause great damage to themselves.

@ Barbara- your daughter is quite amazing. 24 hours a LONG.

@ Jules- faith makes you do so many strange things, doesn't it?

Kittie Howard said...

Am enjoying your cultural drabbles Ranya. I've had the good fortune to visit India several times, each trip an eye-popping feast that makes me hunger for more.

In the comparative religion courses I've taken, most religions have a 'fast' element to link the physical with the spiritual.

As I mentioned in a previous comment, I lived in Egypt for a year. At the end of the fasting day, participants would GORGE on food and so on until the wee hours of the morning...many actually gained weight during Ramadan...those who could slept off most of the following day.

Regardless of religion, I'm not a fan of extremes...I personally fail to see the religious purity in gorging. It's all too much, too much for me.

Rayna M. Iyer said...

@ Kitty - I do agree with you. The purpose of Ramazan or any other fast is not to lose weight so whether you gain weight or lose it should not be the issue. But to sleep off the fast and gorge otherwise is a bit ridiculous.
But much worse is the people who should not be fasting, and do- the pregnant/ lactating, the very old and the ill. Not only is it dangerous, it is prohibited, but their ego makes them go through with it.
And you actually took comparative religion courses- those must have been fascinating.Looking forward to picking your brains because I really know so little.


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