Wednesday, 18 July 2012

RAMAZAN - 2012 dates and how it may affect your holiday

This year Ramazan takes place from 20th July through to 18th August. The dates during which Ramazan takes place are dependent on the Lunar calendar so therefore, move forward each year by around 11 days. Ramazan (Ramadan in other countries) is the 30 day Islamic holy month and for Muslims is a time of fasting, prayer and celebration. Fasting does not just mean not eating, it means nothing passing the lips - so no eating, drinking, smoking, chewing gum and for the strictest Muslims no licking of postage stamps, no sexual intercourse during daylight hours and even swimming and taking showers in case water passes the lips.

Ramazan is a time to slow down from wordly affairs and cleanse the inner soul, and teaches the practice of self control, sacrifice and empathy with the less fortunate. It is compulsory for all Mulsims from the age of puberty, apart from the elderly, ill, infirm or mentally ill people. Also exempt are pregnant women if they believe harm will be caused to themselves or their baby, menstruating women and women nursing new born babies. Some people who are unable to fast for reasons of ill health or age will donate food to the poor instead. Some children will participate by completing some fasting as preparation for when they are older.

Obviously at the moment Ramazan is taking place at the height of the summer when it is extremely hot here, so it must be incredibly difficult to go all day in these temperatures without so much as a glass of water. Tempers must get frayed and it is suggested that road accidents increase during Ramazan when tempers are fraught and concentration is distracted. So if you are in Turkey during Ramazan be very careful driving around!

The Ramazan drummer walks the streets in the early hours of the morning, beating his drum to wake the fasters for their breakfast 'sahur' (suhoor). As sunrise is around 4.00am that is an incredibly early awakening and the drummer may start between 2.00 and 3.00 am!

Ramazan is also a time of celebration and after sunset families and friends and communities will gather together to partake of 'Iftar' the meal taken at sunset to break the fast. In Fethiye there is a carnival atmosphere in the evenings with stands along the harbour, and events and concerts taking place. Fethiye gets very busy during Ramazan and in particular it may be best to avoid going to restaurants around sunset when the Turkish families hit them hard. Equally the restaurants tend to be quieter during the day due to the absence of Turkish families, although I have seen families sitting with their children whilst they eat, and of course not all Turkish people are practising Muslims.

Because we live in a tourist area Ramazan does not noticeably affect us, with most restaurants open throughout the day. But do spare a thought for the chefs and waiters who are probably fasting while serving you with food and drink all day. That must be very difficult! If you are travelling to more remote areas take food and drink with you as it is more likely that restaurants will be closed during daylight hours.

So all in all Ramazan should not really affect you if you are holidaying here, just spare a thought for those who are observing Ramazan during your stay, for instance it would be more respectful if eating, drinking or smoking during daylight hours to do so subtly and not walking around in public.  It is more likely to affect you at the end of Ramazan when  the Seker Bayrami festival starts as during that time banks are shut for the best part of a week, some business may be shut on some days and ATMs can run out of money. But more of that in another post.

No comments:

Post a Comment