Ramazan (Ramadan) is the holy month of Islam. In this period the holy book Quran was sent to Muhammed. And in the Quran, those who are not sick or travelling are ordered to honour and fast during these 30 days.
When is Ramazan?
This year Ramazan (Ramadan) begins on the evening of Tuesday May 15 and ends on the evening of Thursday June 14. Because of the lunar calendar, the start of Ramazan moves backwards by about eleven days each year.
What is Ramazan?
People, and certainly non-Muslims, associate this holy month purely with fasting (oruç). But Ramazan is more than that. Keeping Ramazan is one of the five pillars (basic duties) of the Muslim faith.
It is intended to bring Muslims closer to God and teach them about patience, spirituality, and humility. Hence the fasting, to redirect the heart away from worldly activities, cleanse the inner soul and free it from harm. It also teaches Muslims to practice self-discipline, self-control, sacrifice, and empathy for those who are less fortunate and encourage actions of generosity and charity.
Fasting is the religious duty of all Muslims and it means not letting anything pass or even touch the lips. Starting from the twilight before sunrise (the first call to prayer) until the twilight after sunset, no food, drink, tobacco smoke, chewing gum or any other thing that involves the mouth is allowed.
Some people are exempt from fasting: children until the age of puberty, pregnant women, travellers, the elderly and people that are chronically ill.
During Ramadan, Muslims wake up well before dawn to eat the pre-dawn meal or sehri. This is the most important meal during Ramazan since it has to last until sunset. This means eating lots of high-protein foods and drinking as much water as possible right up until dawn, after which you can’t eat or drink anything.
The day of fasting is over at sunset. The exact minute that it’s ok to eat is signalled by the fourth call to prayer at dusk. Hungry people may start the evening with a light snack. This light meal, consisting of freshly-baked Ramazan pide bread, pickled vegetables, olives and other easily-prepared edibles is often enjoyed in a group with family members and/or friends.
More elaborate dinners are normally held later in the evening or night, but some people just go for it right from the start.
Even though many Turks don’t fast for Ramazan, they are sensitive to those who are fasting around them. As a visitor, it’s best to be considerate by not eating in public during daylight, especially in rural areas of more traditional cities. Be patient with the hungry Turks you encounter – fasters can be a bit on the grumpy side.
Some restaurants which normally serve alcoholic beverages may not do so during Ramazan.
Those who want be kind to someone fasting in Ramadan may say or greet with “Ramadan Mubarak” (“Hayırlı Ramazanlar” in Turkish), meaning “Have a blessed Ramadan.”
Celebrate with the locals
Various events take place during Ramazan so keep your eyes (and ears) open when you’re out and about in the evenings. Join in the festivities to celebrate the holy month with local people.
Ramazan Bayramı (Şeker Bayramı)
The end of Ramazan is celebrated with a three day holiday. It starts at sunset on the last day of Ramazan and celebrates the completion of the holy month of fasting.