Ramzan or Ramadan is a holy month in the Muslim lunar calendar which spans around 29 or 30 days. All through the month Muslims fast during the day and eat only at night. Men, women and children participate in the fast which is also highlighted with daily prayers. Only during the month of Ramzan women are allowed to take part in the prayers offered at Mosques in a special section which is allotted for female devotees.
The purpose of this fast in Islam is to encourage Muslims to give to the needy members of their community and also to have an experience of hunger which helps them understand the sufferings of the less privileged. Charity is emphasized all through the month and it is believed that any gift made during Ramzan is multiplied 70 times. Ramazan is also believed to be the month when the Quran, holy book of the Muslims was revealed.
Fasting during Ramzan is the fourth pillar of Islam and is taken very seriously. No form of food and water is consumed through the day. Of late the health benefits of fasting are being debated upon besides spiritual upliftment. Self discipline and self control are other virtues one learns during the fast observed in Ramzan.
Muslims in India also follow a special diet during the fast. China grass pudding is consumed each day while breaking the fast along with dates and porridge prepared in Mosques for the occasion.
The end of this month long fast is Eid Al Fitr or the festival Ramzan which is celebrated with much pomp and gaiety. Eid means recurring happiness and friendly greetings of Eid Mubarak (meaning a blessed Eid) are exchanged on this day. Prayer meetings along with splendid feasts with family, friends and relatives and distribution of sweets and gifts are all part of the celebrations of the day.
Muslims in India strictly adhere to fasting during Ramzan and in acts of charity. Respecting the tradition of fasting, even non Islamic institutions make provisions for Muslims. For instance, some shops set up special booths for Muslims who break the fast at dusk and offer porridge free of cost.
Eid Al Fitr or Ramzan is one of the recognized national holidays in India and on this day educational institutions, shops and office establishments remain closed. Muslims donning new clothes can be seen greeting one another and exchanging food and gifts on Ramzan.
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Understanding Islam And Muslim Traditions: An Introduction to the Religious Practices, Celebrations, Festivals, Observances, Beliefs, Folklore, ... World's Musli (Holidays, Religion & Cultures)