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Ramadan, the ninth month of the Hijri calendar (a lunar calendar), is considered the holiest month in the Islamic faith. Through stringent fasting, discipline, introspection, and prayer, Muslims elevate their level of spiritual and physical submission to Allah, express their gratitude and seek his forgiveness.
It is believed that during this month Allah revealed the holy Quran to Prophet Muhammad through angel Gabriel. As a way of honouring this auspicious period of time, Muslims abstain from eating, drinking, smoking, any form of violence, anger, and also husband-wife intimacy from the breaking of dawn until the setting of the sun. Reading the Quran and making a charitable donation (Zakat-al-Fitr) are also encouraged.
So, as we prepare to welcome the holiest of months, here are the dates, calendar, and guide to spending Ramadan 2023 in Senegal.
Ramadan dates and calendar 2023
The beginning of Ramadan is subject to the sighting of the moon and hence, there is some degree of uncertainty involved. However, it can be estimated by Muslim scholars and authorities by observing the appearance and cycle of the moon.
In 2023, Ramadan is expected to start from March 22, and will last until April 20. The month-long festivities will culminate with Eid-Al-Fitr, or as it is better known in Senegal, Korité. The exact date of Eid depends on the new moon, so it is better to confirm with your local mosque.
In some regions of Senegal, Muslims go out and watch the crescent shape of the moon to determine the beginning of the festival, while in others, they rely on their Imams.
Ramadan in Senegal
During Ramadan, the mosques are decorated beautifully with lights and flowers across Senegal. Religious class are held almost daily. Muslims flock to their nearby mosques for the Tarawih prayer and reading the holy scripture.
Religious songs are also typical of the Ramadan celebrations in Senegal, with several all-night events devoted to these songs being arranged. Many Senegalese even take special training to learn the art of singing the orotarios and performing the adhan in the distinctive African way.
Generosity of spirit
During Ramadan, Senegal gives special importance to grace, forgiveness and sharing. The Ndogou is a traditional community dinner served at the end of each day during this holy month, most popularly in and around the capital city of Dakar.
Volunteers collect donations and use them to arrange for tea, café touba, bread, dates and the like. This food is then handed out freely to anyone and everyone in the vicinity who couldn’t reach home in time for breaking their fasts. In some areas, even non-Muslims are welcomed to join the festivities and partake in the delicious Ndogou.
It is also customary to give alms to the needy Muslims during this month as it said to validate the month-long fasting. These alms, called Murum Koor, are traditionally given through essentials like rice and corn, but recently, money has also become acceptable. Moreover, following the practice of Suukaru koor, husbands are expected to gift their parents-in-laws staples like food and cloth (or money). Even though these traditions are not prescribed by Islam, they are very true to the Senegalese culture.
Some things to keep in mind
Senegal is not that conservative anymore and accepts different belief systems. Those who aren’t fasting need not starve themselves but are urged to be considerate and not eat or drink in public. Be respectful towards those who are observing the fast and other traditions of Ramadan.
It is also advisable to dress modestly during Ramadan. Swimsuits and other summer outfits are fine and acceptable when in the hotel or by the pool, but when going shopping or visiting an attraction, please opt for modest and unassuming clothes.