There are many aspects of Ramadan that are truly beautiful. Whether it’s the art of giving, fasting, or helping those in need, it seems like at every turn there is always a little extra sparkle wherever you go. Although we’re sure that sparkle may come from the thankful feeling you get from Ramadan – we can’t help but think it also has to do with the beautiful decorations and traditions that fill our streets as well as our hearts. With 1.7 billion Muslims in the world, spread across several continents, Ramadan traditions are inevitably going to be diverse. While countries in the Arab world have somewhat similar traditions, as we move across the Far East customs change and vary.
In the Middle East, it has become custom to decorate streets and homes with crescent moons and lanterns. The lantern has an interesting origin – it is said that the tradition dates back to the time of the Fatimid Caliphate. When Caliph Caliph al-Mu’izz li-Din Allah returned to his people during the month of Ramadan he was greeted by the masses holding lanterns to celebrate his ruling.
As we crossover to Indonesia, we discover there are traditions that might be a little unfamiliar in the Middle East. On the island of Java for example, residents will bathe in the holy springs to prepare for fasting in a ritual, locally known as Padusa. In the city of Semarang, the Dugderan Carnival marks the beginning of the Holy Month where the Warak ngendog is paraded (a dragon-like creature allegedly inspired by Al Buraq – the heavenly creature that is said to have carried the Prophet Mohammed from Mecca to Jerusalem and back during the Isra and Miraj).
Even foods tend to vary across the Muslim world. While the Middle East breaks their fast on soups and salads, traditionally the people of Aceh in Bangladesh tend to favor beef dishes, while in Java, snails are the Ramadan culinary choice.
As we near the end of the Holy Month, we thought we’d take you on a little photographic journey around the world to discover the beautiful, and beautifully diverse traditions of Ramadan.
A Palestinian boy sets off fireworks to celebrate the month of Ramadan
An elderly man shops for traditional Ramadan desserts in Paris
Muslims heed the call to prayer in the middle of their day (Photo Credit: Romeo Ranoco)
A young woman prays while awaiting to distribute Iftar (Photo Credit: Asif Hassan)
A vendor prepares to sell his dates to mark the month of Ramadan (Photo Credit: Mohammed Huwais)
Ramadan Mubarak everyone!
(Featured Image Photo Credit: Muhammed Muheisen)