Ramadhan is the holiest month in the Islamic calendar. Fasting is prescribed in this month from morning dawn to the evening sunset. While Muslims make up 10% of the Sri Lankan population, Ramadhan is reverently celebrated during the fasting month of the Muslim calendar in Sri Lanka by all Muslims. The day typically starts at around 3 or 4 a.m. where the family has a meal together. ‘Suhur’, a special prayer is recited, starting off the new day’s fasting after which the men go to mosques for Fajr (Early Morning Prayer) while women pray at home.
In the evening, Muslims look towards the call-to-prayer for the Evening (Maghreb) for breaking-fast. In the typical Muslim home, breaking fast is done with traditional snacks such as Pakora, Samosas, milk, dates, and a specially prepared soup called “Kanji”, a tasty and fulfilling preparation made from rice. This special ‘Kanji’ soup is usually distributed by mosques to Muslim households in the area for them to break the fast. Following this and the Maghreb prayer, Muslims would spend time reciting the Quran until it is time for the Night (Esha) prayers.
All Sri Lankan Muslims piously fast and attend prayers at mosques typically during the month of Ramadhan. It is also a time when many affluent Muslims distribute ‘Zakat’ money among the poor during this period, while much Sadakah and charity is also performed.
Ramadan ends with the sighting of the crescent moon and celebration of the Id’ul Fitr festival. Muslims visit the mosque during the morning soon after sunrise, adorning new clothes to pray and listen to sermons. Many Muslims spend the day and following days with family unions and fellowship.