Many Muslims across British Columbia — as well as those across the globe — ended their month long fast for the holy month of Ramadan on Thursday.
The annual observance is one of the pillars of Islam when Muslims are unable to eat or drink from dusk until dawn for 29 to 30 days, to show their commitment to God.
The holy month shifts every year as it falls according to the lunar calendar, so while most Muslims marked the end of Ramadan Thursday, others will on Friday, depending on whether they go by the Islamic calendar or the sighting of the new moon.
To mark the end of the 30-day fast, Muslims have a celebratory feast called Eid-al-Fitr, but rather than city-wide celebrations like they have in India, British Columbia Muslims mainly observe the occasion close to home.
“It’s technically more family events,” said Omar Khan, who runs the site BCmuslims.com. “Family and friends’ houses.”
Many completed their final day of fasting Wednesday and met at local mosques for a special night prayer and celebratory feast, followed by another special prayer and feast Thursday morning.
But Ramadan is more than just fasting — while many give up food from dusk until dawn, others also give up TV, cursing, certain music, etc., said Khan.
“Those aspects tend to be a bit more challenging,” he said.
But fasting was much more difficult this year with the province’s long, hot summer days — which had fasting start around 3 a.m. and last until dusk around 9:15 p.m.
Yet the end of Ramadan is still “bittersweet,” said Khan.
“The religious significance of the month is very large – there’s great benefit in it being there,” he said.
Fasting serves as a reminder of Muslims’ service to God and teaches sympathy and empathy for the needy as they experience the feeling of hunger.