Although Muslims make only 7% of the population but due to their dominance in the cities trade and business, Muslim festivals are celebrated with great joy and tradition. Ramadan fasting month of the Muslim calendar in Sri Lanka is eagerly awaited by all Muslims, children and adults alike THis is a time of relaxed work hours for Muslims in and more traditional life compared to the rest of the year.
In a typical Sri Lankan Muslim house people get up before dawn at about 3 or 4 a.m. to have a meal, usually of rice and curry before beginning the fast. A special prayer is recited that makes a bond that one has began the fast for the day this meal is called Suhur, right after Suhur people head to mosques for Fajar (Early morning prayer) women pray at home.
After a short nap men & women begin the day, some people recite the Quran (Koran), and women also do some sewing work, etc. while in the evening women get busy in making the evening feast for breaking fast. Most Muslim children go to Muslim schools, where they get holidays for Ramadan.
So for boys and girls Ramadan is a time of joy and leisure where they form groups and play indoor games like Carom whole day long avoiding exhaustive sports. In the evening men and working women return home and eagerly wait for the call for the Evening (Maghreb) prayer to breakfast.
In a Muslim home for breaking fast is a special ocasion every day, special snaks are preared like Pakoras, Samosas and a special soup called “Kanji”. Kanji is a kind of gruel/soup prepared from rice, which is usually made and distributed by the Sri Lankan mosques to Muslim households. After breaking fast and praying Maghreb prayers people recite the Quran for about an hour or so until the Night (Esha) prayers.
For Ramadan period mosques in Sri Lanka arrange for a special areas for women prayers so they can come and pray the Night (Esha) prayers and the special Ramadan ‘Taraweeh’ prayers which takes about an hour. On weekends mosques also organise lectures by visiting scholars
Most Sri Lankan Muslims fast and a majority of them attend prayers at mosques especially during the Ramadan period. In addition many rich Muslims distribute their Zakat money among the poor in this month. Lot of sadakah and charity is also done during this month.
Ramadan ends with the celebration of Id’ul Fitr festival, people to the mosque in the morning just after sunrise putting on new cloths and pray and then listen to a sermon and afterwards give Salaams and hugs to eachother as a blessing and gesture of happiness, just like easter.
The festival day in Sri Lanka is also a day of family unions where extended families living in different areas come to their parental houses and celebrate the festival with a grand launch. Undoubtedly the happiest on this special day are the kids as they receive ‘Festival money’ as gifts from parents and relatives, which fill their heart with joy.
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