Ramadan-The Muslims Fasting Month

Every year in the ninth lunar month of the Islamic calendar, known as Ramadan, Muslims around the world abstain from food, drink, smoking and other sensual pleasures from dawn to dusk. At the end of the day the fast is broken with prayer and a meal, and is resumed the next morning.

In Malay, fasting is known as Puasa and breaking fast is Buka Puasa. It is compulsory for all Muslims who are mentally and physically fit, past the age of puberty, in a settled situation (not traveling), and are sure that fasting is unlikely to cause real physical or mental injury.

The fast is performed to obey God’s command with an aim to inculcate discipline, humbleness and self-restraint, to experience what the poor and destitute feel, and to develop the noble habit of generosity.

The beginning of the Islamic lunar months depends on the actual sighting of the new moon. Thus Ramadan begins on a different day each year. This year, it began on the 5 October.

In Malaysia, Ramadan month offers a chance for the people including Chinese and other races to sample some of the very best of Malay cooking as it has become a Ramadan tradition for many housewives or hawkers to make cakes, puddings, and special savoury dishes and sell them at roadside stalls for the daily breaking of the fast. With more and more Malay women now in the workforce with little time to prepare the elaborate Malaysian cuisine after work, the number of stalls have mushroomed.

In Betong, the stalls start selling at about three o’clock in the afternoon. They sell rather simple and economic food, mostly regional dishes rather than traditional Malay delicacies. I do miss the traditional Malay cooking like Ayam Percik (marinated chicken skewered and grilled), Dodol (a gooey coconut fudge), Rendang (creamy, rich and thick beef or chicken curry), ketupat (rice cakes boiled in palm-leaf wrappings) and Lemang (rice cooked in bamboo).

There are not many stalls in Betong as most of the people here lead a very simple life and normally prepare their own food at home. Besides, the Chinese and Thai here rarely take Malay food. The fact that almost every evening is raining also affects the sale of the food!

The roadside stalls

Some of the stalls

Take aways

6 responses to “Ramadan-The Muslims Fasting Month