Ramadan or Ramazan in Turkish is the 9th month of the Muslim calendar, following the lunar calendar means that the start date moved around 11 days earlier each year. This means the 2015 month of Ramazan starts on the 18th of June. The end of the month brings the 3 day festival of Eid ul-Fitr or Seker Bayram which translates as the sugar feast.
The fasting of Ramazan is obligatory to all healthy Muslims – it is discouraged to all Muslims who will become unwell by fasting for instance Diabetics, pregnant women and other illnesses. Those who are ill any time throughout the month are also discouraged from fasting until they are well enough to make up for the days they missed.
But why do they fast and how long for? – In brief the month of Ramzan allows Muslims to get closer to God, it provided a time to reflect on all God-given things and to practice patience, honesty and gratefulness. Muslims will fast between the daylight hours of sunrise and sunset, they will wake very early in the morning to eat and then allow no food or drink to pass their lips until the ‘Iftar’ evening meal. The evening meal is a big family gathering where everyone will break the fast together. The Muslim community will also come together in the name of charity, many restaurants will offer free Iftar meals.
Does it affect my travel to Turkey? - Within the resorts of Turkey, there will not be much disruption, restaurants will continue to service food and drink through the day, further afield it’s more likely that you will see a number of restaurants either closed during the daylights hours or offering minimal service so that they can offer full service to their customers after sundown. Some areas will have a drummer going round before dawn waking up the residence for the pre-fast meals. You will also see a number of different dishes around including the bread ‘Ramzan Pide’ a round bread and Gullaç a milk dessert plus much more.
Can I get involved in any way? – Non-Muslims can also take part in the fasting, for spiritual reasons or simply to support their Muslims friends and neighbours however it is a very difficult thing. If you wish to attend an Iftar meal with friends you’ll find the family arms opened wide to your visit. Watching families come together to break the fast offers a fantastic ambience not to be forgotten.
Other than fasting you can get involved with the charity side of the Month of Ramazan easily by purchasing a ‘Ramazan Paketi’ available from all supermarkets – these boxes contain a number of items such as dried rice, soft drinks, jams etc. These welcome gifts can be left with neighbours or delivered to your nearest mosque who will distribute them to less fortunate families in the area.
When visiting bars and restaurants it’s nice to remember that those serving are often battling the hunger against their working environment, they will also be very glad to hear you say ‘Hayırlı Ramazanlar’ or ‘Ramadan Mubarak’ which means may your Ramadan be Blessed.