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Ramadan: Fasting without Buter Dal and Piyaju's

I like Ramadan. It's the only month where you can be religious and also have fun. It's the only month where you actually fast but end up gaining more weight than you care about. It's the only month which actually ends with a dash of hope, a flicker of excitement in this cold mundane world of ours, as to quote the great fakir.

Yeah, Ramadan was something special. Each year I used to wait hopefully for the sighting of the new moon. There was something with the month that captivated your spirit!

During Ramadan everything changed. There is a sense of serious religious fervour which made you feel all good inside. Time slowed down. Dhaka actually became peaceful. Then when the iftar period neared, activity bustled up. The prospect of a delicious iftar filled the environment with excitement!

But now I am here in USA, the land of a thousand different kind of cheese and a million different kind of breakfast cereals. And Ramadan sucks here. Perhaps that's how I felt but upon talking about it with a few fellow muslim buddies of mine.

I came to the same conclusion. Ramadan sucked here. It isn't the same as it was back in either Jordan, Bangladesh, Palestine, Lebanon, Pakistan, Morocco or Iran. God knows, how many tales of nostalgia I had to hear to write this article. Marwan a Jordanian classmate of mine said simply, “the vibe is missing here. I never thought that the vibe was so important”

You see, Ramadan isn't exactly made up of the fact that you are fasting. The entire social scene around you all contributes to the uniqueness of the month. Here life goes on without change. The continuity hits you hard and you realize that special Ramadan holiness simply isn't there.

American Ramadan's are difficult specially for college students like us. Getting up in the middle of the night is next to impossible. Furthermore you are all alone and the food sucks. You gobble down a few packets of Doritos and have a Frapuccino and that's it. You are set for the night and somehow you must survive the next day of classes and running around the campus. Iftars are the worst.

Iftars are meant to be home cooked. It's meant to be a family event when everyone gets around the table in silence waiting for the azaan to be announced. Iftar was more than a time to eat. It was a time to reflect with your family and enhance the value of a religious event. It's not there man. And it sucks.

The worse thing about Ramadan here is the complete lack of authentic Iftar foods. Iftar demands special preparations. It is not only in Bangladesh that elaborate meals are prepared.

The practice is prevalent everywhere. Every muslim I met here from a multitude of different clubs seem to express remorse at missing home iftars, which used to contain as diverse a food selection as roasted date filled with cashew nuts, fried sweets made up of sugar syrup and milk to the good old thick meat sauce peppered with spices. (we call that halim, by the way). Here Iftar could be anything from burgers to assorted cheese pizzas and Roast Turkey with garlic sauce. It sounds good in paper but after a while you really miss the real food.

However all is not bad in the land of the 1000 cheese and as many type of breakfast cereals...

If you look deeper you will find that muslim organizations thriving in USA and they are all very eager to go out of their way to make Ramadan a special event for the whole muslim community. Right here in my University there is almost an iftar party every day at the local muslim house. Almost every two days there is a mass conglomeration of muslim students in the surrounding areas to have Iftar together. A few days ago a “shehri” party was organized in a local restaurant. The bus left at 3:00 am in the morning and so yeah I missed it!

The muslim organizations here do not only organize iftar and shehri gatherings. There are various charity drives aimed at raising money for the poor and those living below the poverty line. The organization helps local muslims to collectively and effectively participate in zakaat. The money doesn't only go out internationally to poor muslim communities around the world but also to various American organizations and are used to help American people too. The seriousness with which charity fund raisers are conducted is amazing. There are some pretty devoted people here! The Ramadan also sees a host of other events which aim to increase the awareness of Islam and fasting among the muslim youth population. A few days later in Cambridge a huge Youth Festival will be held where young people gather and spend a night with fellow muslim youths. The events are organized in such a way to give a perfect mixture of fun and reflection. There are games and fun stuff to do if you are a kid. If you are not really a kid you can simply socialize in the ball room party. At night there are Quran recitation sessions and a general discussion on Islam. Its events like that which really raised my eye on the level of muslim activity here. It is anything unlike Bangladesh where Mullahs come to your house to beg for your donation.

I guess if you want to get involved there are plenty of things you can do here which will help make your Ramadan more fulfilling. I don't know whether this is an uniquely Boston thing or whether this is prevalent in other areas of the USA. The amazing part about living in Boston is the fact that there is a huge community of college students and like minded people here and thus finding your niche isn't really difficult at all, even if you are a struggling nostalgic deshi muslim.

By Reggie


Sports Update

Yahoooo! At last, Bangladesh has won a match in the qualifying round of Champions Trophy. However, they have not qualified for the final round still it feels great. The tigers lost the toss for the first time ever in the Champions Trophy and Zimbabwe put them to bat. Bangladesh made 231 runs with the help of Shahriar Nafees's massive ton of 123 runs from 161 balls with 17 boundaries & a over boundary. In reply, Zimbabwe made 130 runs in 44.4 over. At last, our left-handed spinners showed what they could do with the red cherry.

Apart from cricket, shocking news is flying in the football arena. The British team has lost their Euro-2008 qualifying match against Croatia! Gerry Nuivell (who never scored a single goal in his international career) has scored a goal. However, it rolled down to own post and their trusted goalkeeper Robinson was his opponent for that moment. The shock-pill gives another doze to football fans in the qualifying round - Portugal lost their match against Poland, and Hungary lost their match against one of the weakest team in Europe, Malta. Both the match had the same score line of 1-2. Other than that all other teams, including the Azzuries who lost their path after World Cup, found their steps back on the track. Argentine coach claims his team did not have enough time to practice and lost yet another match by 2-1 against Spain. Roberto Ayala for whom the stage was set to become a hero was the villain of the match as he gifted a penalty for the winning shot.

Moving from international news, the Pakistani big man Inzamam has agreed to play for Beximco team in the corporate league. As he cannot play in the Champions Trophy, he decided to play for Beximco in the semi final and the final match. If Pakistan cricket board gives him the permission to play here, then after a long time we are going to watch a superstar in our domestic cricket.

Well, this week's sports weather was not good enough for the sports lovers. I am ending my update with smoochy news. Christian Vieri who played for Intermilan in 1999-2005 has made a promise. He is going to take away the free Seri A championship from Intermilan because they have planted a spy against Vieri. Vieri has already started the procedure to complain against Masimo Moratti to the Italian Olympic committee. There, he plans to ask the committee to take away the championship, which they have got due to match fixing.

By Quazi Shah Newaz Rahman

 
 

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