Muslims constitute over 90% of the population in Bangladesh. Which means Ramadan is a big deal. This year it started while I was in Cox Bazar, on may 27th.
Since then the people have been fasting from sunrise to sunset.
Food is prepared all day and there are many stalls all over selling fruit, vegetables, fried food, currys, sweets…
Work finishes earlier during this months of Ramadan and everyone rushes home to be on time for Iftar. That is when the sun goes down and the fasting is broken. Here it is between 6:45 and 7pm.
When I visited Old Dhaka, a few days ago, Manon (my roommate who is like me and loves to eat) and I told the guide we wanted to have Iftar in the old town.
We finished visiting a bit late and by the time we got to the restaurant the guide had in mind (around 6:40) it was already full and all the food had been served.
Because people come early (up to an hour before) and sit with the food in front of them, waiting. After fasting all day I don’t know how they can sit for so long with the delicious food in front of them and wait so patiently.
That day we tried a few different places, hoping on and off rickshaws, before finally finding one that still had food. (It may not look all that exciting… but it was so good!)
Last night my friends and I went to Khana Khazana, a restaurant in Gulshan where we live, and had Iftar together.
It starts with a plate filled with fruit (dates, oranges, apples..), fried food like eggplant beignets, chickpeas, jalebis (those sugary things like in the movie Lion, which btw I totally recommend if you haven’t seen it already)
Then comes the buffet, with rice, meat, dal (lentils)…
It got really silent around 6:50, then there was a countdown and everyone began to eat.
Most people then get up around 3am to eat and drink again before the sun comes up.
This time hasn’t actually changed much for me a part from making me more aware about when and what I eat. I am not fasting. I felt bad the first the days but my colleagues reassured me and said they didn’t mind. That was also part of Ramadan.
Part of Ramadan is also helping the poor. Food is given to those living on the street. And it seems like people are even more generous towards the beggars.
There aren’t that many parties or social activities here to start with but the city is extra calm during this months.
And it’s fascinating how the streets empty up completely during Iftar time ! The first few days it seemed like there had been a apocalypse. No more crazy cars, honking, packed lanes… Everyone just seemed to have suddenly disappeared.
Some tea shops still serve tea on the streets during the day. They have curtains around them.
An issue for most people during this time is that food prices rise for not specific reason.
Children and elder people are not supposed to fast. And neither are pregnant women and women on their period. Or anyone that is sick.
I don’t know how the people (especially those working outside in the heat) can go all day without drinking…
That’s all for now.