By: Sammer Zehra, Guest Blogger
Growing up, Ramadan (Rum-a-don) was an exciting time in the house. My mom would make special food like samosas (mini deep fried meat pies), chaat (a spicy salad of chickpeas), and rooh afza (a refreshing sweet drink). We competed with our siblings and cousins to see who could fast the longest and who had the most fasts. Each fast would begin before dawn, where we would eat a full meal and drink plenty of water.
Throughout the day we would find ways to keep our minds off our grumbling bellies and knew that getting through the fast would come with the sweet satisfaction of achieving a momentous goal. It would end with a juicy date at sunset. As one of the five pillars of Islam, fasting is a crucial part of the faith. Although children aren’t required to fast, we were excited to prove we were no longer kids! The days were filled with fun and gatherings with family and friends. We also knew good deeds would be multiplied in Ramadan so we competed with one another, often running to my mom as referee to see if something counted, like giving spare change to charity, smiling at someone, or not hitting a sibling when they were being extra annoying.
Fast forward to today and we still celebrate Ramadan with family and food. We are blessed with many Islamic houses of worship which hold nightly prayers and often have kids programs as well. My children are excited to see their friends at the mosque and stay up past their normal bedtime. We have also added more spiritual practices to our celebration. The Quran, the holy book of Muslims, was first revealed to Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) in this month, so we make a special effort to connect with the text. We also hope to have a “spiritual cleanse” and let go of grudges or ill-will, so we try to make amends with anyone we have hurt. Many mosques feed the homeless and hold food or toy drives at this time. Our kids get a chance to help those in need and are reminded to practice gratitude for their blessings.
The whole month seems to zoom by as days and nights are abuzz with activity. When Ramadan ends, we celebrate Eid al-Fitr by dressing up and gathering for food and prayers in the morning. After prayers, people usually nap. It’s not a religious nap, but everyone I know seems to nap midday. In the evening, it’s more gathering with food, family, and friends. Children are given “eidy” (money) as gifts!
The month of Ramadan (May 5 through June 4 this year) is an amazing opportunity to reset our minds and bodies, build a more meaningful connection to God, and be the best version of ourselves to those around us. Learn more about Ramadan on Wednesday, May 15 at the recently added storytimes from 10-10:30 am and 4:30-5 pm.