(ANSAmed) - TUNIS, JULY 18 - Islam's holy month of Ramadan,
a month of fasting in the hours of daylight, one of the
religion's pillars, will begin on Saturday. Ramadan - like other
non-Muslim religious holidays, notably Christmas for Christians
and Purim for the Jews - has a spiritual side and a more
material side. After Muslims are forced to abstain from food,
sexual relations and smoking starting with the first prayer in
the morning before sunrise and the last prayer of the day after
sunset, they traditionally enjoy large meals and food prices are
usually raised in spite of government plans to block them and
increase food supplies.
Such measures regularly fail as producers and retailers
speculate on prices of food mostly enjoyed by Muslims such as
eggs, milk, white meat and vegetables, forcing families to
exceed their budgets at a time when the prolonged fasting
usually leads to more than double their food consumption, market
researches show. Exceptions to the fasting only concern
children, old people, the sick and athletes, if previously
Restaurants remain closed during the day and open at night,
often offering performances during dinner.
This year the Saudi Arabian wise men and astrologists determined
that Saturday would signal the beginning of Ramadan, creating
surprise in those who believed that Friday would be the first
day of the holy month this year.
Many, mostly Gulf residents, believe starting Ramadan on Friday
is bad luck and could even lead to the death of a king or sheik.
But in Tunisia starting the holy month on Saturday is the sure
sign of a bad year. (ANSAmed)