Unlike the Gregorian calendar followed by the West, the Islamic calendar is lunar that is, based on the moon. Since lunar months are shorter than solar months, Muslims holy month of Ramadan, which takes place in the ninth month of the Islamic year, occurs approximately 11 days earlier every year depending on when the moon is sighted and hence, varying from country to country by about a day.

This year too, the tentative dates for the sighting of the crescent moon, which marks the onset of Ramadan, is under question. With the month of Shabaan, the month that precedes Ramadan in Islamic lunar calendar draws to a close, Muslims in India have begun preparations to beat the heat as they fast from dawn to dusk for a period of 29 or 30 days.

When will Ramadan begin and end in 2019?

In India this year, Ramadan is expected to begin from May 5 or May 6, as per the sighting of the crescent moon. Depending on the moon cycle, the period will last 29 or 30 days which means that the holy month will draw to a close on June 4 or June 5. Muslims all over the world will be observing a fast from dawn to dusk during these 29 or 30 days of Ramadan.

What is the significance of Ramadan?

According to Muslim beliefs, it was during Ramadan, precisely on the night of Laylat al-Qadr that the Quran was first revealed to mankind. The Night of Power or Laylat al-Qadr as it is called, was the night when the word of Allah is said to have been revealed to Prophet Muhammad.

The whole month is spent by Muslims in spiritual reflection and increased devotion and worship as the tablets of Ibrahim, the Torah, the Psalms, the Gospel and the Quran are believed to have been sent down on the 1st, 6th, 12th, 13th and 24th days of Ramadan.

As per Chapter 2, Verse 185 of the Quran:

“The month of Ramadan is that in which was revealed the Quran; a guidance for mankind, and clear proofs of the guidance, and the criterion (of right and wrong). And whosoever of you is present, let him fast the month, and whosoever of you is sick or on a journey, a number of other days. Allah desires for your ease; He desires not hardship for you; and that you should complete the period, and that you should magnify Allah for having guided you, and that perhaps you may be thankful.”

What is the tradition of keeping a fast in Ramadan?

The fast is called a Roza and it is observed by all Muslims through the month and the basic idea behind fasting is to practice self-restraint. Breaking a fast with iftari delicacies can put a smile on the hungriest of people.

A Roza is kept in a certain way, a typical day would start with sehri or suhoor which consists of a lavish meal before dawn. Once the sun rises everyone observes the fast through the day and then break the fast after the evening prayer with a feast enjoyed by friends and family. Eid-ul-Fitr marks the end of Ramzan. This annual observance is regarded as one of the five pillars of Islam.