Hooray! The End of Ramadan is Near!!!

ramadan 1

You could be forgiven for thinking that my outburst above is linked to me joining in with the month long fasting Muslims observe during the Holy month of Ramadan, but this would be far from the truth.  I like my food and although my waistline has again shrunk since returning to India, this is not due to foregoing the pleasures of eating, but rather caused by the monotony and lack of variety of foods available in the hamlet.  And it is indeed strange that whereas Indian women seem to be expanding exponentially with age, I am spared that experience, but then again I avoid eating rice and stick to a Western take on Indian food with loads of fruit and vegetables, the odd bit of chicken and fish, and masses of dhal.

My happiness at the end of Ramadan is merely spurred on by the knowledge that I can at last have unbroken nights of well deserved rest.  I have before been grateful for the lamenting of the mullahs at 5 am in the morning when the sound of my alarm clock just did not penetrate my slumber and I was at risk of missing my train, but having to listen to the painful wailing of the mullahs umpteen times a day and night is just a bit too much of a good thing.  Whereas the daytime prayer calls go mostly unnoticed as I am at school, I do not need to be alerted to the presence of the mosque at 10 pm when I am about to go to bed, nor do I fancy a wake up call at 3 am so I can have breakfast, lunch and dinner before the first light of day, followed by another need to face the East (or is it West as I am in India???)  at 5 am when I may just have dozed off again…  So the end of Ramadan means a good night’s sleep!!!

And two days holiday!!!  I certainly approve of the Indian view that to keep religious harmony, all main festivals are celebrated and this means plenty of national holidays.  Although the school diary was quite clear on Saturday 18th July being declared a holiday (very unfortunate for me as I never work on a Saturday), there were rumours that Friday would also be a day off…  But the decision for this was left in the capable hands of Imams who would be studying the movements of the moon at 6pm Thursday night (today) to ensure that Ramadan would not end prematurely.  Maybe the Indian habit of leaving everything till the last minute  is firmly rooted in the unpredictable (?) waning and waxing of the moon…   Luckily, the Minister of Education (being himself of the Muslim faith) saw sense Wednesday evening and declared Friday a holiday for schools only.  Finally, after six or seven weeks of hard slog, a whole day off.  Not quite the full week I would be having in the UK, but it is something….

Obviously the school, in the spirit of a multi-faith establishment, wanted to mark the occasion with suitable fanfare.  Children were encouraged to turn up in ‘fancy dress’ which, correctly translated into English English, refers to Sunday best clothes rather than pirates, fairies or cartoon characters.  And I give due credit to the few girls who clearly defied the school management’s order not to wear jeans; if boys can, why can’t girls…. The stage background grew some green minarets and everyone was greeted by ‘Eid Mubarak’.  And if I had been told that wearing green  – the most holy colour in Islam as it is a reminder of Paradise – was the done thing, I am sure I could have stretched to digging out a green shawl from the bottom of my cupboard. Since A. has joined the school and clearly takes the covering up with a pinch of salt, I have also adopted the same approach and dispensed with the totally useless and unnecessary garment that women wear…

Fancy dress or Sunday best???

Fancy dress or Sunday best???

Maybe Sunday best...

Maybe Sunday best…

And in great Indian tradition and without fail, such a celebration at school entails many long speeches and considerable disruption to the general school time table.  A local Muslim dignitary spent over an hour preaching in Malayalam; the owner of the school, School Manager, Academic Director and his wife the Principal further added their little bit of advice to lengthen the time the children had to sit patiently waiting for the end and lunchtime…  And eventually there was even a few minutes of entertainment: songs and dance performed by the older students.  All in all a riveting morning, as you can see from the photographs below…

And he went on and on and on and on....

And he went on and on and on and on….

Yawn, Yawn.  Let's play hairdresser's.

Yawn, Yawn. Let’s play hairdresser’s.

Making good use of the time available.   Fitting in a quick nap.

Making good use of the time available. Fitting in a quick nap.

Watch the hands.  Even the Muslims in the audience had better things to do.  Texting?  Playing a game?

Watch the hands. Even the Muslims in the audience had better things to do. Texting? Playing a game?

Even the dignitaries were having difficulties with concentrating on the events.

Similarly, the dignitaries were having difficulties with concentrating on the events.

But the girls enjoyed their performance and kept the audience entertained.

But the girls enjoyed their performance and kept the audience entertained.

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