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The month of Ramadan is considered the holiest and most sacred month of the Islamic Hijri (lunar) calendar. Muslims firmly believe that it was during this exalted month that the archangel Gabriel descended from the heavens and revealed the Message to the Prophet Muhammad.
During the month of Ramadan, Muslims are required to elevate their level of spiritual and physical submission to God by way of fasting; that is to say, Muslims must abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and also husband-wife intimacy from the breaking of dawn until the setting of the sun.
As we prepare to welcome the holiest of months, here are the dates, calendar and guide to spending Ramadan 2021 in Bahrain.
Ramadan dates and calendar 2021
The arrival of Ramadan has always been associated with a certain amount of mystique and contemplation. The exact date of the month’s beginning is traditionally determined by religious scholars/authorities under the cover of night as they seek to observe certain sightings related to the appearance and cycle of the moon.
This year, Ramadan is expected to be upon us starting from 12 April and will last until 12 May 2021, followed by the Islamic festivities of Eid al Fitr.
Ramadan in Bahrain
The coming of Ramadan has always served as a reminder of the age-old customs and traditions that have characterized the Bahraini culture. As the blessings of Ramadan reverberates throughout the Kingdom, the people of Bahrain rejoice in a serene Ramadan atmosphere characterized by feelings of kinship, charity and spirituality.
Such kinship and benevolence are particularly observable in masjids all over Bahrain, where free Iftar (breaking of the fast) meals for Muslims and non-Muslims alike are being offered. Prior to the pandemic, it’s estimated these free Iftar meals had been provided for some 12,000 people throughout Ramadan each and every year courtesy of benefactors who wished to remain nameless.
The post-sunset feast is typically held inside the masjid or in the surrounding especially set up tents. The types of dishes being served naturally vary from day to day, but some of the most prevalent Ramadan dishes include thareed, cooked meat with gravy, vegetables and served with bread, harees, a type of boiled ground wheat mixed with meat and served with kebabs, and ever the crowd-pleaser, ghouzi, a hearty dish of rice and different types of meat.
Following the Iftar, gatherings called ghabga are held with Bahrainis inviting family and friends into their homes in the hopes of strengthening bonds between them. The ghabga is usually held between 11 PM to 2 in the morning in order for the invitees to easily attend the gathering. The night reaches its conclusion as the guests excuse themselves and the family once again prepares their Suhoor (pre-dawn meal).
Another noteworthy Ramadan tradition of Bahrain is the girgaon. Celebrated on the 14th night across most GCC countries. The girgaon is a lively affair where children don traditional clothes and costumes and make their way to the homes of relatives and neighbors: singing songs, knocking on doors, and indulging in gift sweets and chocolates.
Some rules to observe
Like practically all Muslim countries, work and school hours are cut short during Ramadan. Hotels remain open as do restaurants within their grounds. All other restaurants are mostly closed during the day with some closed for dine-in only. Expat establishments are fully open with alcohol readily available.
As there are plenty of options to have your meal or drink during the day, please do so in private or within the above establishments. Public display of eating and/or smoking is highly frowned upon and should be avoided. Most offices and workplaces also have separate areas for those wishing to dine and wine during work hours.
Women must also take care to dress modestly and conservatively. Shoulders, necklines and knees are expected to be hidden from view during Ramadan.