It's Ramadan again! My favourite time of year, though I have to admit that I'm a little glad it ends before Freshers week begins. Last year I posted a list of 10 things to expect from Ramadan
. I was sitting around ignoring my Evil Reading List From Hell and emphatically not
thinking about the chocolate in my drawer, when it occurred to me that I'd missed a few important things from said list, and that it was practically my duty to ignore the Evil Reading List some more, in favour of updating you all.
So, I came up with:Four more things to expect from Ramadan
1. Expect the Moon Sighting Wars. Thanks to the lunar calender, Ramadan is supposed to begin with the sighting of the new moon. This sounds simple enough, in theory.
Muslim 1: They started Ramadan in Canada today.
Muslim 2: *derisively* Hah. Canadians. They always start early.
Muslim 3: We started yesterday! When do you guys begin?
Muslim 1: Oh, day-after-tomorrow, we follow Ayatollah X, and he says that it begins on the 5th this year, unless it happens to be raining, of course, and then it's the 3rd. If it were raining during a leap year
though, we'd be back to the 5th, so long as the flamingo population south of the Nile hadn't increased by more then 20% in the past year, in which case it would be the 2nd. Something to do with precipitation in the atmosphere and whether you need to be able to actually see
the whole moon or just know that it's there.
Muslim 2: Makes sense.
Muslim 3: No it doesn't. We follow Ayatollah Z. He says Ramadan begins when the moon is sighted in the Eastern Hemisphere, (except for when Ramadan falls during the summer or the migratory season of birds), because your Western eyes are blinded by all your light pollution and Godlessness! Ayatollah X is stupid.
Muslim 1: Yeah, well, your face
And a brawl ensues, in which Ayatollah X, Ayatollah Z, Wahhabis, Sunnis, Sufis, 'Those-New-Young-Sissy-Shias-Who-Wouldn't-R
-If-It-Bit-Them-In-The-Arse' and everyone's respective mothers will all be insulted without compunction until someone manages to separate everyone and invite them all over for Iftar
. (Once food is mentioned, all arguments will be forgotten.)
2. Expect to gain at least a few pounds in Ramadan. The Mysterious Weight Gain will hit you hardest in the years when you've spent the months leading up to Ramadan gorging on chocolate, telling yourself your flab will just drop off when you're fasting. Expect to receive no sympathy from your family/friends when you moan about your weight gain to them. They will either cast pointed glances at the chocolate wrappers in your bin, or try to help you in cruel and unusual ways, by stealing the krispy kremes you always buy for just after sunset, (because krispy kremes are practically a requirement in Ramadan), or replacing the chocolate stash under your bed with bananas. And expect to never, ever understand where all the new flab comes from, and to end up accepting that fat just comes looking for you during Ramadan, and attaches itself to you out of spite
3. Expect the slow but steady creep of commercialisation. Expect to walk into Tescos and find 'New! Ramadan Advent Calendars, 20% off!'. Expect to weep for the lost innocence and integrity of your favourite religious holiday. Expect to buy one of said advent calendars anyway, and to horde the camel shaped chocolates in particular because they taste best and you like biting the little heads and hooves off.
4. Expect to become embroiled in the Food Plate Competitions. In Ramadan, it's customary to always cook at least ten times more than you need, so that you can send the rest around to your neighbours and wallow smugly in your own generosity. Your mother/aunt/older-female-relative-of-you
r-choice will be busily sending you out to deliver plates of samosas and cookies and little fruit-on-a-cocktail-stick-thingies in the first week of Ramadan. All will be well, until your neighbours decide that they want to get in on the smug wallowing, and start sending you food plates in return. Bigger ones. These are seen as challenges, which must be met. It can all get quite nasty.
Ro: Hey! Number 3 down the road sent us back some chocolate cake!
Mum: That cow
. Now I've got to make my coconut and fig surprise for her. She does this to me every year
Ro: *edges towards the door*
Mum: Where are you going? Get back here! Number 8 sent us twenty chicken pastries this morning, we've got to send back at least thirty samosas. Well, start folding!
It's not all bad though. You learn new skills, after all.
Little Sister: *walking in* Are you cooking
?! Willingly?! Did someone let you watch cooking shows again? I thought we'd all talked about this after the giant cookie mountain incident.
Ro: *holds up shapely, freshly baked samosa* I've made twenty so far!
Little Sister: *faintly* My God. The end is nigh.
As it turns out, you're supposed to fry samosas, not bake them. I've managed to get rid of them anyway, by fobbing them off to people as the healthier option. Hah. :D
There are the nice points too, of course. Ramadan is filled with lovely, sweet, unselfish things, like family and community and friends and really good food after 8pm. It's nice to know you're not struggling to be a better person on your own. But all those things are sugary and cliched enough to be really difficult to write about, so I'm going to wander back to the Evil Reading List of Doom now.