Thursday, August 12, 2010

Fast Food

Today was the first day of the holy month of Ramadan - a time when Muslims fast all day, and may only eat or drink after sunset. People may eat a meal, called Suhoor, before sunrise and the first call to prayer, which is around 4:00am. Then, once the sun has set, the breaking of the fast is a meal called Iftar. It’s usually around 6:30pm. I read that one of the purposes of fasting is to teach empathy for those who are less fortunate, who may often go hungry and without food, thus encouraging acts of charity and alms to the poor.

It will be interesting to observe how this month affects people - both physically and spiritually. At some point I will have to try fasting myself. Though, I will wait until I am back in a place with air-conditioning. I cannot imagine getting through the heat of a day up here without a single sip of water. Matin and the branch employees fasted today. Then, we all celebrated the first Iftar together after sunset.

Traditionally, in Bangladesh, Iftar is made up mostly of fried foods - samosas, pakoras and the like. I think things are mostly fried because that is the easiest way to cook mass quantities of food, which must be prepared in advance, and easily transportable. Often people will pick up their Iftar meals on their way home from work, then wait until sundown to eat. I would have assumed people lose weight after a month of fasting, but after eating my first Iftar, I’m not so sure. 

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