Ramadan In Dhaka

One of the changes in Dhaka during Ramadan (or Ramzan as they call it here), is that the traffic patterns change. After 6:30 p.m., there is almost no traffic on the roads so it makes getting around at that time ideal for those of us not trying to be somewhere to break the fast (Iftar) at sunset. The times of the shop openings are slightly different and things are in general not as bustling. But only slightly. Mostly, what one notices is the lack of traffic during normal rush hour hours.

One of my favorite roads in Dhaka.

If you are lucky enough to be invited to Iftar, you will find certain foods ready on your plate for that exact minute when the sun sets. Most of the items are small fried items like dates, fish cake, lentil patty, mini funnel cake, etc. There is also a special lentil soup called “haleem” which is a must to break the fast. Lemon water is the normal drink served. After the Iftar, or breaking of the fast, people will go for a quick prayer, then they eat a supper, often buffet if at a restaurant. Many, if not most, restaurants offer Iftar menus.

The end of Ramadan is marked by Eid-ul-Fitr (the first of two in the year). The long Eid is a festive time lasting days. Families give gifts, mainly of clothes, to each other. The shops are open all night long so that people can shop. Bonuses are paid. During the long Eid, many businesses close for days and many people leave town for the long holiday. The start and end of Ramadan depend on the moon.

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