Muslims in Kashmir face the most challenging Ramzan for more than 30 years this year, with long summer days creating the shortest possible window for breaking daily fast.
The Islamic holy month this year includes the summer equinox year, meaning early dawns and late sunsets. The dates of Ramzan, which are determined by the moon, move forward by 10 or 11 days each year in a 33-year cycle.
Muslims in Kashmir face the fasting hours of just less than 16 hours a day, however, the valleyites are motivated to fast.
“Thinking about it seems difficult, but doing it is fine,” a resident of Srinagar said.
Millions of Muslims around the world will mark the start of the holy month of Ramzan on Tuesday, a time marked by intense prayer, dawn-to-dusk fasting and nightly feasts.
The holy month of Ramzan started in Arabian countries on Monday while it is expected to start in Jammu and Kashmir including parts of Pakistan and India on Tuesday.
During Ramzan, Muslims fast between dawn and sunset, abstaining from food and drink. In the depths of winter, the daily fast can be as short as eight hours, compared with more than 20 hours in some places this year.
“We had a taste of this last year, but this year it’s going to be even more challenging,” the resident said.
“But this is all part and parcel of our faith; most Muslims take it in their stride. Maybe a few more will take advantage of the exemptions available to the elderly, frail and those on medication.”
The expecting mothers and children are also exempted from fasting.
Charity donations are expected to increase manifold. Zakat, or charitable giving, is one of the five pillars of Islam and required for Muslims; Sadqah is additional voluntary charity.
“As Muslims, we believe that the worth of donations is multiplied during Ramzan,” said Farooq Ahmad, a Safakadal resident.
“Charity begins at home and the community which gives so generously will get huge rewards in the hereafter,” he added.