The holy month of Ramadan is almost here and Muslims all over the world are on the brink of beginning their day-long fasts. As usual, 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.

According to the reports by astronomers at the International Astronomical Center (IAC), the fasting is likely to begin from May 6, 2019. While the final announcement will be made by the moon sighting committee, the director of the IAC, Mohammad Shaukat, has reportedly conveyed that the moon will be sighted on May 5 in all likelihood, in the East and South-East of India, southern Europe and the Arab nations.

Given this prediction, the crescent moon will reportedly be sighted on May 5 around 2.46 am (UAE) which means that the first fast will be observed on May 6. The moon sighting committees in India and Saudi Arabia will also declare the last day of fasting, that is the day of Eid, in the same manner on the 28th or 29th evening of fasting after the crescent moon is sighted post the Maghrib prayer.

Ramadan or Ramzan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar when Muslims abstain from food and water from sunrise to sunset and join mass prayers at mosques. It is a month of fasting, praying and spending quality time with one’s families. 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.