This Monday, the Muslim holy month of Ramazan (Ramadan) begins. At least it begins in Turkey. The start of Ramazan is determined by the moon, and countries that are more exacting in their intrepretation will wait until they specifically know which day the moon is correct for the start of Ramazan.
Millions of Muslims around the world will not eat, drink, smoke or make love during daylight hours. In Turkey, fasting is a personal decision and is not as widespread as in the more conservative Muslim countries.
The Ramazan changes I will personally notice in Mersin:
-My boss, Ahmet, and fellow employee, Serkan, will consistently fast; other workers may fast on the odd day. Every late afternoon, all office staff will share in the fast-breaking bread and soup (normally lentil – yummy), even those who are not fasting.
-At about 5am, or some other ridiculous time, a drummer will walk past the street below belting his drum. Last year, I could hear the BOOM of the drummer twice or even three times in the same early morning!
The purpose of the drummer is to wake everyone up for their pre-fast meal before the sun rises.
In modern times, with the advent of alarm clocks, this drumming is not a practical necessity. However, what keeps it going is tradition.
At saner times of the day, the drummer knocks on doors requesting donations for his work. The only positive I can see from the drumming, is that it gives unemployed work.
-People will give more to charities and the poor. The supermarkets have special packages of basic foods (flour, spaghetti, oil, tomato paste, etcetera) at special prices for people to either buy for themselves or buy and give to less fortunate people.
-Some restaurants will be closed for the whole of Ramazan.
-Ramazan pide, a style of flat bread, will be produced by the bakeries in the afternoon, traditionally to be eaten with the fast-breaking soup. This is the only time of the year that this bread is widely produced. I like the bread and wish it was produced more often!
-From the evening of the 24th to the 27th of November is the Ramazan feast. I will write more about this later.