Ramadan or Ramzan is the ninth month of the Muslim year. The first verses of the Holy Qur'an were believed to have been revealed by Allah to Muhammad during this month.
Muslim months start when the new moon is sighted and the Muslim year is 11 days shorter than the Christian calendar. Hence the Ramadan month falls earlier each Christian year.
Muslims celebrate this month in an austere way. They stop taking food or drink a little before sunrise and the fasting continues while the sun shines. After sunset, the fast is broken with a meal known as iftar. The hunger and thirst they experience is meant to remind them of the suffering poor.
Each day, one thirtieth of the Holy Qur'an is recited at many mosques, so that the entire book is recited over the thirty days of the month.
A spirit of generosity, gratitude and devotion characterizes the Muslim during the month of Ramadan.
Ramadan ends with Eid al-Fitr, the festival of breaking the fast. Muslims dress in fine clothes, decorate their homes, give treats to children and invite friends and relatives. They feed the poor and give charities to mosques.
Because sighting of the moon is so important, it often happens that the festival is celebrated on different dates in different regions. For example, it is being celebrated in Kerala in 2006 on October 23 while in some other regions, it is being celebrated on October 24.
Eid al-Fitr is one of the most important Islamic festivals along with the celebration following Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca). And in Kerala, with its large Muslim population, it is an important festival celebrated all over the state.
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