July 2010, fireworks outside my place: I was still in Brazil, and that meant the beginning of the world cup. Something that would keep busy the day of cariocas for a whole month.
Ironically, fireworks are also used to celebrate, in Indonesia, the beginning of Ramadan. So on Sunday 31st july, sunset, people gather in the closest mosque so pray. There are hundreds of them. I walked to the mosque down my street to see how the thing works. Men are praying inside the Mosque, while women outside. They all wear typical dresses, and left their children to play outside. Funny detail, as I got there they surrounded me asking me where I was from, what I was doing there at cetera, they were so many since so many were their parents praying in that moment.
The following day, I went to work as usual, but decided not to start my fasting as I had been sick recently. Not to offend anyone, I sneaked into the kitchen to hide and have breakfast, altought I was later told it’s allowed to eat in front of people.
Being used to hundreds of people wandering around street vendors for food, it took me some time to get used to such an empty atmosphere. Only 2 restaurants in my area are open, so me and my christian friends didn’t have a lot of choiche about were to eat. Supply and demand law made an exception, since it was all full.
On tuesday, I finally tried fasting. Alarm at 3, I had my first meal at 3.30 then a second at 4am. I could resist until 14h without even being hungry, but thirst and lack of sleep were difficult to deal with. All my coworkers, by the way, cheered me up until ramadan opening, which was a great relieve to me even if it only consisted of chiken and tea. They were so happy a foreigner wanted to join them.
My second day of fasting was much easier, since I had somehow gotten used from the first. The only difficult to cope with was devilish non muslim colleagues tempting me with coffee ehhe. Also in this occasion, the best part was opening fast together, as a kind of ceremonial. Wherever people find themselves at 17.57 they stop and eat together 🙂 it’s definitively a good thing about religion it creates a sense of community.
My fast didn’t get past the third day, because I only intended to try it not to implement as an habit. People here told me fasting is healthy, personally I’m not sure denying water to your organism is a nice thing to do, but it’s just my opinion not a matter of fact. What is sure is that there are so many rules in islam one needs a guide not to get lost. Here an example: a calendar of praying time for the month of August, according to sunset forecast time.
It was a bit hard at the beginning, but still I advise to try I, even if only for one day. Whatever you break your fasting with, it will be the best meal of your life. And again, it’s nice to try to put yourself in other people’s shoes and avoid earthly pleasures for a while 🙂