Govind Pangyani, cook at the Indian Pavillion, enjoys preparing
Ramadan, The Holy
Month once again...:
new moon over the horizon manifested the beginning of Ramadan, the
holy month in Islamic calendar believed to be having some of the
most auspicious days of the year......
The first Ramadan in a Muslim country is a unique experience for
many expatriates, especially to those who had little exposure to
Islam and its tenets.
Experiencing the religious devotion and piety with which their
Muslim friends and colleagues observe the holy month has been a
great learning experience to them.
Living and working in the UAE, many said, gave them the opportunity
to learn about the importance of Ramadan, of which they have only
heard stories back home.
Simba Nyajeka, an IT engineer from Zimbabwe said he was under the
impression that Muslims cannot eat or drink for one whole month.
"I always wondered how one can survive without eating and drinking
for a month. It is only after I came here, I realised that fasting
is observed from dawn to dusk", said Nyajeka who had his first
Ramadan in the UAE last year.
He said one of his aunts, who is working in a Muslim school, had
warned him about how eating and drinking in public is prohibited in
Muslim countries during Ramadan.
"I was a bit worried but after reaching here, I realised it comes
natural to us to respect the laws of the host country. Moreover, I
think it is the basic respect I can show to a fasting colleague or
friend", said Nyajeka.
His wife, Noma, will experience her first Ramadan in the UAE this
"We also fast but I guess it is completely different here. I am
really looking forward to read and learn more about fasting in
Ramadan", she said.
Some Western expatriates said their exposure to the beliefs of Islam
helped them dispel incorrect notions.
"I landed in the UAE last September when it was Ramadan. I remember
how I hid in the toilet and drank water because I was told that it
is against the country's law to do so in public. It had caused some
physical difficulty to abstain from drinking or eating in public.
But my respect for the religion has grown and I have always been
open to integrating the culture into my living", said Yolanda
Merchant, an art curator from New York.
According to her, Ramadan brings families and friends together and
strengthens the solidarity among communities.
"I am reminded of my childhood in Cuba when families use to get
together for dinner. It is something that is missing in the western
culture where families are getting estranged", said Merchant.
(Courtesy: Gulf News)