We love Ramadan in Bahrain
FAQs, dos, don’ts and general info about the Holy Month Discuss this article
What is Ramadan?
It’s the Holy Month in the Islamic Calendar, where Muslims fast from sunup to sundown for approximately 30 days. The dates move around, judged by the placement of the sun and moon. The start and end of Ramadan will be declared the day before.
Do I have to be Muslim to partake?
Not at all! Particularly in Bahrain, many iftars and suhoors are geared as a way to bring the entire community together. Even if you’re not fasting, you are still welcome.
Iftar is the meal to break the fast after sunset. Typically, people will eat traditional small food like dates, dried apricots and Ramadan juices, before heading to evening prayer. After that, large meals are the norm, usually with family and friends. Traditional foods in Bahrain include barbecue, biryiani rice and whole roasted animals like lamb and sometimes, rumour has it, baby camels. In Bahrain, big spreads of Lebanese mezze and international dishes are also popular, with many hotels offering sprawling buffets.
What is suhoor?
Suhoor is a meal taken just before sunrise, before the day of fasting starts. It often takes the form of a fun party starting just after iftar and gabgha. Many hotels host smaller buffets, entertainment and more to celebrate until the wee hours of the morning.
What is Eid and why are there two?
Eid al Fitr and Eid Al-Adha are two celebrations at the end of Ramadan. Eid al Fitr translates as the ‘festival of breaking the fast’, and happens immediately after Ramadan, with day-time feasts (and in Bahrain the return of brunch). Family and friends gather in their best clothes and go visiting baring gifts - expect traffic to increase in the days leading up to this, as people hurry to get new clothes, haircuts, henna and procure all the sweets and ingredients for their feasts plus buys presents – lots of the shops and car showrooms have amazing deals around this time. There’s also a charitable obligation, to make sure the poor in the community have enough food to celebrate themselves. Eid Al Adha translates as the ‘festival of sacrifice’, and that’s just what it is: traditionally, animals like sheep and goats are slaughtered. It’s roughly 70 days after the end of Ramadan and celebrates the end of the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. It’s required to do the slaughtering (or at least witness) yourself, so expect to see live animals in the back of trucks all over the island – it’s often seen as a rite of passage for Muslim boys to participate. One third of the meat is kept for the family, another third is giving to friends and relatives and the last third is given to the needy. Each holiday typically lasts three days, so expect shops and businesses to be closed for at least some of the period.
Time Out Bahrain,
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