The Blessed Ramadan
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, a month of abstinence and contemplation. Iranian Muslims of all sects welcome, celebrate and honour this month with enthusiasm and excitement.
Travellers to Islamic lands will notice a distinct change in street scene and day to day activities of the people. Devout Muslims abstain from eating and drinking between the sunrise and sundown prayers, outward presentation of food and drink is frowned upon let alone their public consumption. This austere scene however changes after the evening prayers when the daily fast is ceremoniously broken and people sit to iftar.
Iranians of all ethnicities have developed their own delicacies for this month. These exceptionally tasty dishes both sweet and savoury are developed to help pass the evenings of prayers and contemplation, when families and friends get together around colourful iftar spreads. As Ramadan is on the lunar calendar these delicacies also reflect seasonal flavours.
The dishes are so popular that people look forward to arrival of Ramadan so that they could be enjoyed once again. It is reputed that Naser al-Din Shah a very powerful king of the Qajar dynasty (1831-1896) had wished the arrival of Ramadan so that he can eat a belly full of Zoolbia a traditional saffron flavoured sticky sweet which is a favourite of this month.
Throwing an iftar spread and inviting friends and family to break the fast is one of the highlights of the month. Families take turns and almost all 28 days of the month has an invitation pending!!!! The tradition that goes way back has also extended to most organisations and government departments who make official invitations and set colourful tables. Most hotels and restaurants also set tables fit for this month with a colourful collation of national and regional delicacies.
Given the vastness of our ancient land and its divers ethnicities one can be surprise and delighted by the specialities on offer. Don’t be put off by the idea of the long fasting days think of the delight of iftar and spiritual dimensions of the family and friends gathering. There could never be a more fitting feast to conclude a day’s sight-seeing. If you are lucky and get an invitation don’t hesitate to accept, you will enjoy the famous hospitality of the Iranians combined with the spirit of Ramadan and its mouth- watering delicacies.