Ramadan spirit comes to life in iftar tents

Approximately 100 tents are set up around İstanbul every day, sponsored by various individuals and organizations, where food is distributed at the time of iftar, the daily breaking of the fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Ramadan spirit comes to life in iftar tents

Approximately 100 tents are set up around İstanbul every day, sponsored by various individuals and organizations, where food is distributed at the time of iftar, the daily breaking of the fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Long lines develop in front of these tents as iftar nears. The tents can be a lifesaver not only for the poor and the needy, but also for students and others who cannot make it home in time for the fast-breaking meal. In these tents can be felt the true spirit of Ramadan, which materializes throughout the month of fasting. İstanbul's tents are open to everyone, and although most visitors are area residents, tourists sometimes enjoy a Ramadan dinner with hundreds of others in the tents. Celebrities also frequent iftar tents to be with the people at this time of year, when the community spirit reaches its highest.

Thousands lined up in front of tents run by municipalities or charitable institutions and individuals on Thursday to eat the first iftar -- the evening fast-breaking meal -- of Ramadan.

İftar tents, set up at many points in all towns across the country, will be filled every evening throughout the upcoming month with people wishing to break their fast with a modest but hearty meal. In an urban setting, iftar tents are the perfect embodiment of the spirit of Ramadan, which emphasizes solidarity between the members of the community, togetherness, charity and brotherhood; reminding us of our own interconnectedness as a community and the universal ties we have to all members of the human race.

İstanbul has more than 100 iftar tents this year, while the capital has 31. The İstanbul Governor's office hosted the first iftar at the tent of the Eminönü Municipality, set up in Sultanahmet Square. Among this tent's visitors were İstanbul Governor Muammer Güler and his spouse Neval Güler, Eminönü Mayor Nevzat Er and popular Turkish singer Orhan Gencebay.

Hundreds of residents who couldn't make it home in time for iftar and some who cannot afford a nutritious Ramadan dinner for the entire family formed long lines in front of the iftar tent -- which has the capacity to host 500 people at one time and feed 3,500 to 4,000 people in a day -- some of them beginning to queue in the late afternoon. On the menu was soup, stewed meat and rice, ayran to drink and baklava for dessert. As iftar time neared, the tent was filled with hundreds of people waiting patiently for the call for the evening prayer, signaling that the sun has set and food may be eaten.

However, some couldn't be as patient as others. Anna, 23, and Ella, 22, two students from Poland lured by the delicious smell of the soup, started a little bit earlier. But didn't they notice nobody was eating? Did they know what this tent was set up for? "I have absolutely no idea," Anna said. "We were just walking by and some people invited us in," she explained. When we told them about the start of Ramadan, the girls said, "Oh well that is what we supposed it was," relieved to have found that it made sense.

Others joined them in enjoying the food at the end of the evening prayer, which performed inside the tent, led by Musa Çetinkaya, the imam of nearby Yeni Camii (New Mosque). Eminönü Municipality has a smaller, 750-capacity tent in Çemberlitaş. They also pass out food and snacks after terawih prayers, additional prayers offered in the evening that are particular to the month of Ramadan.

Expanding the Ramadan spirit throughout the entire year

The Ramadan season is here, with its colorful lights, joyful communal dinners and festive activities such as traditional Ottoman theater plays and other performances. Ramadan is a period of fasting, reflection, devotion, generosity and sacrifice observed by Muslims around the world.

As with other religious practices centered around food and fasting, the awareness raised on an individual level in Ramadan about empathizing with the rest of the human race, understanding the common points to us all such as hunger and thirst, sympathizing with the less fortunate of the world and developing feelings of generosity and good will toward others can be expanded to cover the entire year, for a more spiritually fulfilling and peaceful life.


Today's Zaman

Last Mod: 19 Eylül 2007, 09:30
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