Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Half time

We are half the way through Ramadan now, only two weeks to go until Hari Raya, and Brunei is buzzing.
It's like their Christmas, it's their biggest Celebration of the year, and they are preparing in every way possible: decorating their houses, putting up lights, buying new furniture, new curtains, baking and cooking to be ready for the Open Houses, having new clothes made etc. Nothing can be done at the moment here in Brunei, it's all "After Hari Raya, after Hari Raya".

The holy month of Ramadan is the month in which the Holy Quran was revealed by Allah to the prophet Muhammad. The 9th month of the Islamic calendar.
So how do they celebrate Ramadan?
All Muslims must fast, from sunrise to sunset it's forbidden to eat, drink (even water), smoke, curse, lie, loose your temper or have sexual relations. (The only ones exempted are women who have their period, or those who are sick - but they will have to make it up at a later time.) Fasting is one of the 5 pillars of Islam.

Many people spend their time reading the Quran, or in prayer. Here in Brunei, the Royal Palace is open every evening for people to sit and recite the Quran.

The fasting is broken here at about 18.15-18.30 every night. All Muslims listen to the radio or listen out for the sound of the drum, to announce the end of the fast, then they pray and have their evening meals.

For us expats, Ramadan doesn't affect us much. Things get done a little bit slower, and as I said, everybody are busy so you can't get anything done (I tried today f.e to order curtains... "after Hari Raya" lah) - so you just have to wait. Hari Raya will come around soon enough!

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