The holy month of Ramazan (Ramadan) begins on Tuesday 9th July when observant Muslim’s will fast from sunrise to sunset. What is it all about and how could it affect you if you plan to go on holiday to Turkey over that time?
Observing Ramazan, the holy month, is very important for Muslims worldwide as it is one of the five basic duties of the faith.
It is a time of fasting, prayer and celebration.
It is also a time for contemplation when people examine their own lives, understand the gift of eating when they feel like it and remind themselves of virtues such as charity, compassion and forgiveness.
Nil by Mouth
During the period between sunrise and sunset nothing will pass the lips – no food, drink, smoke or chewing gum.
Observant fasters will also not swim or shower during the day time fast in case water passes the lips.
But, when the sun sets, the fast is broken and participants will celebrate with a feast known as the Iftar – ‘Break-fast’.
The date of Ramazan changes by 11 days each year (earlier) and this year it will begin on the night of Tuesday 9th July and end 30 days later on the evening of the 7th August.
At the end of Ramazan a three day holiday known as Seker Bayrami celebrates the end of the fast.
Why Does the Date Change?
Ramadan is always on the same day of the Islamic calendar. However, the date on the Gregorian calendar, the one we use, varies from year to year. This is because since the Gregorian calendar is a solar calendar and the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar.
This difference means Ramadan moves in the Gregorian calendar approximately 11 days every year.
The date of Ramadan may also vary from country to country depending on whether the moon has been sighted or not. So in North America Ramadan starts a day later than in Turkey.
As the fast is now well into the summer months it will bring with it additional pressures of heat and a very long day.
Imagine not drinking any water in this heat and you’ll soon understand the sacrifice people are putting themselves through.
Not only that but smokers will also be climbing the walls too without their fix of nicotine.
The Turks describe the side effects of fasting as Ramazan ‘kafasi’, or ‘Ramazan Head’ in English, that distant, irritable, and some may say, spaced out feeling of going without.
Fethiye, Marmaris and Bodrum are tourist areas so the locals make allowances for visitors.
In fact many tourists will probably be blissfully unaware of not only Ramazan but also that their waiters or other hotel staff are fasting.
You will see people (Tourists and some Turks) eating, drinking and smoking during the day, but it’s good form to be considerate to those Turkish people who are fasting and do any consumption subtly.
This is particularly the case if you smoke – walking down the street puffing away isn’t going to make you popular with those with a nicotine craving.
In more rural places, or traditional cities (like Konya) you need to be more vigilant.
Religious beliefs can be strong so don’t let people see you eat/drink or smoke in public.
If you are travelling outside a tourist area you may find it difficult to find anywhere to eat during the day so take some food and drink with you.
A few things to watch out for:
Some people fasting will be irritable especially in the first few days so be extra careful to be polite and respectful in your day to day dealings with people.
Crazy or Crazier Driving
Around dusk the hungry faster will speed home for their Iftar meal.
Hungry, dying for a fag and with low blood sugar their driving will be even more erratic than normal.
So be careful crossing the road or driving around about this time.
In fact try to avoid going out at this time and wait half an hour after sunset and you’ll have everywhere to yourself.
Bang Bang – The Ramazan Drummer
It’s dying out now but this person stalks the streets in the early morning (from 2:30 am in some cases) beating his drum to awake the fasters for their breakfast.
The drum is very effective at waking people up because the drummer uses uneven and therefore annoying beats.
He doesn’t care if you aren’t a faster and wakes you up so get some earplugs – or as one person did – pay him to go elsewhere!!
During the period of Ramazan, a special bread becomes available (called Pide) which is large and round and sprinkled with black cumin seeds. [These make great bases for French bread style pizza].
Supermarkets will also sell Ramazan hampers stocked with certain foods. These are given as gifts by employers to their staff.
Some business may have shorter opening hours during Ramazan so keep an eye out for signs advising of the times.
If you are travelling away from the popular resorts restaurants may only service one meal, the Iftar meal, at sunset and only with a reservation.
Those restaurants may also refuse to sell you alcohol.
If you don’t want to go hungry plan ahead.
Be aware that public transport will be full at the end of Ramazan for the three day Seker Bayrami festival.
If you must travel on these days make sure you book well in advance.