Busy, blessed, better behaved - it must be Ramadan

8/14/2010

Busy, blessed, better behaved - it must be Ramadan

SYDNEY Road in Brunswick and Coburg will turn from busy to frantic for the next month as Melbourne Muslims begin the holy month of Ramadan, fasting by day and feasting by night.

The bakeries and coffee shops might be a bit quieter, but for butchers, grocers, gift shops and others, it is the busiest time of the year.

Houssam Dannaoui of Medina Halal Meats will do double the business over the next 30 days as Muslims begin a round of festive meals with family and friends.

''It's like having Christmas lunch for 30 days. People buy the best cuts, roasts and steaks and barbecues because they want to offer their guests the best of the best,'' he said.

Africans and Indians love their curries, Arabs and Turks their stews and barbecues, while Australians go for steaks prepared the halal (religiously required) way.

Firhana Imam at Islamic Books and Clothing has laid in extra stock and opened a second store in Dandenong for Ramadan, which ends with Eid al-Fitr and gifts for all.

''It's more an Islamic department store - clothes, gifts, DVDs and a lot of other things. Because it's a very spiritual month people want to do a lot more reading or make sure they have appropriate clothes for prayers at the mosque, because not everyone wears the scarf all through the year,'' she said.

According to Islamic Council of Victoria president Ramzi El-Sayed, everyone finds it a month of blessing, including business people.

Melbourne's 30 mosques and numerous prayer halls overflow every night and community centres, such as Flemington and Roxburgh Park, become temporary mosques so people don't have to travel far, he said.

Hospitality is the centrepiece and ''Iftar'' (break-fast) dinners are held all over town.

Turkish inter-faith pioneer group Australian Intercultural Society is involved in dozens, from private homes to universities and Government House.

ICV women's vice-president Sherene Hassan said her whole family were better behaved during the Ramadan month.

''Last year my teenagers were fighting over the remote control when they suddenly remembered, 'It's Ramadan, we're not allowed to lose our tempers.'

''I'm encouraged to be more patient as well,'' she said.

''You're on a spiritual high. The reality is, although it's a fast, we all look forward to it.''

Source: The Age - theage.com.au by : BARNEY ZWARTZ

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