Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar and the fasting month of Muslims. In the Koran is written that it is forbidden to consume food, drinks and cigarettes between sunrise and sunset. Sex and drunkenness are also prohibited. At the end of Ramadan the fast breaking feast, Eid al-fitr, is celebrated for 3 days. Together with Eid al-Adha it is the most important holiday of the Muslims.
I’m at the Froghouse and my friends here fast. Not only devout Muslims fast, but everyone. Simply because it is tradition and has been learned since childhood. I decide to give it a try.
The first day is hard, already at 12 a clock noon I´m really hungry. But even worse is the thirst. My mouth is dry, since last night I drank nothing. Fast breaking is at 17:30, when the sun goes down, so I have to endure a few more hours.
The feeling of hunger pass eventually, but the thirst remains. Fortunately, it is not so hot today and I’m not doing anything strenuous. By 16 a clock the preparations for the fast breaking meal begin. My friends start cooking and more friends are invited. A large table is prepared, food and drinks are ready long before sunset. There is a coconut drink and several fruit juices.
Time passes slowly, everyone is hungry and thirsty and wait for the call of the Muezzins. Then, shortly after half past five, the redeeming signal, “Allahu Akbar” (God is great) sounds out of the mosque and everyone quickly fill a glass and drink.
Ahhh, how delicious. I notice how the liquid flows down my throat and it seems to be spreading throughout the body. I drink quickly another glass. Then I fill my plate with a huge portion of rice, fried vegetables and tofu and some more dishes. Not five minutes later, my plate is empty, but my belly is full and aching. The others laugh, “Not so fast, don´t eat so much at once”, “Slow down, you can eat all night.”
During Ramadan many people change their daily rhythm and move activities to the evening or the night. Here in Froghouse it looks like this:
My friends eat again at midnight, then go to sleep or stay awake until three a clock at night. Then is time for Sahur, the last meal before sunrise. Already from two a clock on it sounds from the mosques “Sahur, Sahur, Sahur” so that no one forgets to eat. This last meal should not only be enough for the day, but according to the Koran, angels will ask god for forgivness of the sins for that person who eat the sahur meal.
After the meal one should drink four cups of water, so that it’s enough for the day. Then it´s time to sleep. It is the best to sleep long, so that the time until sunset is not so long after getting up.
For me it is the easiest to fast, too, and to adapt myself to the rhythm. I don´t want to eat during the day while my friends fast and it is also not alway easy to find an open restaurant.
The second day is easier than the first. I sleep a lot and the time passes quickly. Somehow it binds us together, to wait for the time until eating and drinking is allowed and I realize how great and important it is to drink and eat.
From day to day it is easier. But I also do nothing strenuous. If I were cycling, or would have to get up early and work all day, it would be much more difficult or even impossible to fast.
At first I was afraid to lose weight, but rather the opposite is the case. Many people even gain weight during Ramadan. It is just that you eat at night instead of during the day and often even larger portions.
I fast for one week. Then I have enough and return to normal rhythm. What remains is the knowledge – eating and especially drinking is so important for us, but mostly we pay only little attention to our meals.