Tuesday, July 9th, marked the first day of this year’s Ramadan (Ramazan in Turkish) month. This means that Muslims are fasting from dusk till dawn for 30 days. This includes: no drinks, no foods, no cigarettes… My friends have told me that the fasting is supposed to encourage people to reflect about themselves, to understand the misery of the poor and to bring them closer to Allah. After the sun sets people have a big feast (called iftar) to break their fast and they eat and drink again before the sun rises. The last few nights I have heard the davulcu (a person beating the drums) going through the streets reminding people to have their meals before the fasting starts again.
I found this schedule issued by a well-known Turkish phone provider. It was distributed to all households in the neighbourhood and marks all Ramazan days as well as the prayer times which change according to the position of the sun.
Not everyone in Turkey is fasting. It depends on the degree of their belief. Children, elderly people, the ill, pregnant women and women on their period are excepted from fasting. Even as a non religious person I find it extremely interesting to witness these rites and traditions.
Since I know that I would not make it through the day without food nor water, especially given the high temperatures, I have set myself another personal challenge: No sweets during the Ramazan month. No chocolate, no ice-cream, no cake, no biscuits, no sugar in my tea… It may sound like an easy task but for me this is a hard one. Today is day 6 and I must say that I have thought about giving in a few times but I have been strong, so far. It is a good opportunity to test my willpower and at the same time I feel closer to the local culture, if that makes any sense. Others may call it diet, I call it fasting.
The end of the Ramazan month will be followed by a big celebration, the Ramazan Bayramı, which lasts for three days (August 8th, 9th and 10th this year) and which is the second most important religious festivity after the festival of sacrifice. It is primarily a family celebration and there will be lots of food and sweets. So I am looking forward to that. In 24 more days.