amzan is the ninth month and the holiest month of the Muslim calendar (Hijri) calendar, established in the year 638.
These past few weeks the household routines of Muslim families across India have changed.
The days begin early, before sun up with sehri or suhoora or the meal that must be eaten before dawn colours the horizon a pale pink. And from dawn to dusk a rigorous fast or a roza is followed.
The routines go in the reverse direction at nightfall. At sunset, just as the sun sinks out of sight, it is time for a mini celebration -- for having been able to keep faith by fasting that day. Iftaar is the meal after sun down. The fast is usually broken by eating a few dates.
Most Muslims will fast will for 29 or 30 days commemorating the 30 days Prophet Mohammed spent on Mount Hira while the Koran was being revealed to him.
At the end of Ramzan, Eid ul Fitr is celebrated.
A Ramzan fast is a demanding act of faith that brings Muslims closer to God. The month of Ramzan is also a month of happiness and thanks for successful fasts kept and a long day's fast is celebrated with good eating and dinners with family and friends.
Ramzan is marked in different ways across Asia and Africa. Iftaari meals vary in their components from country to country. Every country has certain special dishes that are made only during Ramzan and enjoyed during iftaar.
Image : Indian Muslims offer prayers at the Jama Masjid in New Delhi, on the first day of Ramzan.
Photograph: Manan Vatsyayana/AFP/Getty Images
Also See: A call to the faithful