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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Ramazan in Sri Lanka

Ramazan, which ends during April, is a month in every year set aside for fasting, a religious obligation compulsory for very devout follower of Islam.In this month, with the coming of every dawn, not a morsel of food, liquid or solid, will pass the lips of a Muslim observing the first, until the sun sets over the horizon. In this period, while going about his activities a Muslim is expected to devote his time to prayer and meditation.

In Sri Lanka it is not unusual to see large groups of people gathering at the doorways of mosques around the country. Muslims are clearly identifiable by there white lace caps or with a handkerchief covering their heads and kept in place with a knot tied at the back. You can also see them hurrying in the half light of the approaching dawn for the subah or the first prayer of the day. Usually it is just before this prayer that Muslims partake of the only meal for the day. breaking their fast after magrib, the evening prayer. This ritual will go on for 30 days.

During this time, in the evenings after prayers, it's not unusual to see people gathering on the Galle Face Green eating ice cream and relaxing after their day's fast.
Muslim homes are a hive of activities in the evenings; many inviting their friends and relatives to partake of the breaking of the fast with them. A delicious selection of sweetmeats will be on the table for the children but it seems to hold a fascination for many an adult as well.

Another common sight is the movement of small groups of people, usually composed of women and children, asking for alms. this is because it is compulsory for every Muslim to give alms during the month of Ramazan.There are two forms of charity at this time; sadaquat-ul-fitr which is where the rich give food to the poor and zakat-ul-mal where they give one third to one tenth of the value of their property like gold, silver, flocks or grain.

At the end of the30 days, ehen the silvery shape of the moon heralds the beginning of a new month, the fast comes to an end and ld-ul-fitr or Ramazan festival day. Muslims gather in mosques all over the island in the morning for Eid prayers, happy in the knowledge that they have completed their fast. Children can be seen wearing new clothes, relatives and friends will visit each other and families will gather for lunch and dinner.

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