Ramadan is the ninth month of the islamic calendar, and Muslims all over the world observe fasting during daylight hours. It lasts for 29-30 days in which they abstain from eating, drinking, smoking, swearing and having intercourse. Since this is the time the Prophet Mohammed received the Holy Quran, the fasting during Ramadan means more than just a sterile renunciation of food. Anger should be put aside, and a particular effort should be made in trying to stay away from unnecessary altercations and negative attitude toward other individuals. This is a time in which all believers in Allah are given a special chance to look back into their past year, reflect on what happened and eventually improve their conduct in life, elevating themselves to a higher spiritual status. It's an opportunity for them to purify their inner self, subdue evil temptations, and demonstrate generosity toward poor people, and by doing so they can get closer to God.
Eid al-Fitr is the end of Ramadan, and Muslims all over the globe celebrate the conclusion of the fasting month. It can last one, two or three days - depending on the place - in which families tend to reunite, no matter how far they live. The anticipation of this holiday generates enthusiasm and excitement in the hearts of all Muslims, who obviously look forward to spending time with their loved ones. However, Eid al-Fitr symbolizes more than just eating food, and it's a direct consequence of the true meaning of Ramadan. This is the time to put into practice all the spiritual resolutions contemplated during the fasting period, leading with actions rather than with just words. And it's the time to show support for those who are less fortunate through charity and donations of food and supplies.
This past summer I spent Eid al-Fitr in Marrakech, Morocco, a city whose name alone evokes exoticism and mysticism. It was the evening of August 7th, in the middle of the kaleidoscopic D'jemaa el-Fna, the epicenter of the city. This square is already busy on normal days, but that evening it was exuding a special atmosphere. It was truly an open-air theatre, with restaurateurs trying to attract clientele, acrobats entertaining bystanders, artists displaying their talent, astrologers reading hands, musicians playing some tunes, snake-charmers doing their thing... It was a cacophony of colors, sounds, smells, flavors all combined to create a unique experience (recognized also by the UNESCO). It was an awesome place to celebrate the "Feast of the Breaking of the Fast", as everybody was in a great mood, and open and willing to have a good time. For a foreigner like me, it represented a wonderful opportunity to get a glimpse of the rich cultural traditions of this country and it's people, and provided a rare chance of spending some time among locals without being overly harassed by touts and vendors.
It was my first Eid al-Fitr in an Arab country, something I have been waiting to experience for my entire life, and I enjoyed every bit of it. The excitement and sense of community were palpable, and I am happy I was fortunate to be part of it.
Senior Editor Annex Press, Film Annex
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