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The holy 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 Pakistan.

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 Pakistan

Pakistani Muslims observe the practices of self-restraint and self-discipline during the month of Ramadan. It is common to go on with the day-to-day routine during the daytime. However, during this time, schools, colleges and offices start early and close at early afternoon to leave enough time for prayers and Iftar.

The mosques arrange the Taraweeh congregational prayers and recitations of the Holy Quran so that people can immerse themselves in devotion. In Pakistan, men go to mosques for their prayers, while women usually pray at home.

Delectable food

Women start preparing for the Iftar hours in advance, and prepare favourite dishes of their children and family members.

Pakistanis break their fasts with juicy dates. Iftar usually consists of traditional fried snacks like samosas, pakora, and namak para.

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Roasted meat, chicken rolls, and Shami Kebabs are also served as part of the meal. People also savour chaat dishes like Dahi Bara, Chana Chaat, and Kachori. Desserts include fruit salad and jalebi. Dates and water are an integral part of Iftar.

The Sehri meal includes sweet dishes like khajla and phern. Eggs, either fried or made into an omelet, and parathas are also eaten so as to boost digestion and give extra energy for enduring the fast.

Some rules to keep in mind

It is illegal to eat or drink in public in Pakistan during Ramadan. This includes private and public offices. Violating this rule may attract heavy fines and penalties, or even jail time up to 3 months in worst cases, and you might get into trouble with the local vigilantes. If you aren’t observing the fast, you may eat only inside your home, behind closed doors.

It is advisable to dress conservatively in Pakistan throughout the year, but more so during Ramadan, as people tend to be more observant of piety and modesty during this month. Tight and revealing clothes are a strict no-no for women as well as men. Knees and shoulders should be covered at all times when in public.