KATHMANDU, July 21: Nepali Muslims across the country have started to observe a month-long fasting, called Roza, beginning Saturday. The fasting is observed during the Islamic month of Ramadan, the ninth month of Islamic calendar, Hijri.
Muslims, who observe the fasting during Ramadan, refrain from food and drink from dawn till dusk.
They break the fast in the evening. The meal taken to break the fasting is called Iftar. Similarly, the food consumed before the dusk is known as Sehri.
Besides the usual five prayers each day, Muslims offer additional prayer at night during Ramadan, which is called Taraweeh.
Ramadan is believed to be the holy month of the Muslims for the revelation of Allah (God) to human beings, the month in which the first verses of the holy Quran were revealed to the last prophet in Islam, Muhammad (PBUH).
"The daily routine of Muslims changes during Ramadan as they offer additional prayers, reciting verses from the holy Qur´an and perform other religious activities," said Maulana Mohammad Sanaullah Jamali, President of Madrasa Islamia Darool Qur´an, Kathmandu.
According to him, it is mandatory for Muslims to observe fasting when they reach puberty, so long as they are healthy, sane and have no disabilities or illnesses.
However, the elderly, chronically ill, and mentally ill are excused from fasting; those who fall in the first two categories, however, are expected to feed the poor two times a day to make up for the missed fasting.
Also, menstruating women, women nurturing their newborns and pregnant women, if they believe that fasting would be harmful to them or to their unborn babies, are excused from observing the fast, but they should also feed a poor twice a day.
At the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, Muslims observe Eid-ul-Fitr.
Meanwhile, various political parties have extended greetings to the Muslim community on the occasion of Ramadan. Issuing press statements on Saturday, political parties, including CPN-UML and National Madhes Socialist Party, extended their wishes for peace and prosperity among Muslim community.