site.btaHoly Month of Ramadan Starts in Turkiye as Country Prepares for Elections
The holy month of Ramadan for Muslims has begun in 85-million Turkiye. On Wednesday night, the first prayer of the holy month was celebrated in all mosques of the country, including the Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque and Sultan Ahmed or the Blue Mosque.
Thursday dawn, millions of Turks rose woke up for the first traditional Muslim breakfast, the sahur, with which the traditional ritual of the fasting month begins.
The fast continues until sunset. Throughout the day, those observing it refrain from ingesting food and liquids. After sundown, a gun salute and a call by the imam from the mosque announces the end of the day's fast and invites observant Muslims to the first Ramadan dinner, called iftar.
Iftar is the key tradition of Ramadan. The iftar begins with a glass of water and dates, followed by a number of traditional delicacies: soup, dates, olives, grits, pastrami, lean and meat dishes, desserts, tea and coffee are a must. Families, relatives, friends and colleagues gather for the iftar.
Afterwards, the mosque is visited where the terawih namaz is served. Women participate in this prayer ritual only. Generally, only men participate in the daily prayer, which is performed five times a day.
Turkish TV channels offer numerous religious programmes. Lots of social and cultural events and entertainment programmes are organized during Ramadan, which last late into the night.
The Istanbul authorities announced that public transport will run until 2 a.m. during the month of the fast.
Government and municipal offices and businesses change the work hours to facilitate the movement of people observing the iftar dinner ritual. Supermarkets are open longer hours.
Ramadan this year will last 29 days, not 30 as is customary. On 21 April, the 3-day holiday of Ramadan Bayram will begin.
Ramadan is usually associated with fasting but it is much more than that. It is actually meant to teach Muslims spirituality, patience, humility.
In Islam, Ramadan is the most auspicious of the months of the year and is always looked forward by the faithful, as it is one of the five main pillars of Islam.
This year's month of Ramadan comes against the backdrop of the devastating earthquakes in southern Turkiye, whose death toll exceeds 50,000 people after the last count. The motto of this year's festival is "Ramadan and Solidarity".
The donations traditionally made during Ramadan, will go to the quake-hit provinces this time.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will make the first iftar on Thursday night together with quake-affected people in Kahramanmaras. In a live TV broadcast Wednesday night, he announced that on the occasion of Ramadan, pensions will be raised by 36%, meaning that the minimum pension of 5,500 Turkish liras will go up to 7,500 Turkish liras.
Municipalities, civil organizations, companies and associations are preparing convoys of aid for the quake-hit areas. Employers, companies, associations, organizations, various social groups organize iftars for the needy. Representatives of non-Muslim communities are also invited to them.
Political leaders give iftars where they send messages of unity, solidarity, dialogue and understanding. They visit families and people who are in difficulty and share iftar with them.
At the same time, galloping inflation, unemployment, rising prices and cost of living make it difficult for many groups in the Turkish society to afford the cost of the iftar meal.
Analysts point out that Ramadan is expected to be dominated by the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections on 14 May, as the election campaign will start within the month.
Campaigning for the presidential elections will begin on March 31 this year and will end on May 13.
And if there is a second round of the presidential election, campaigning will start on 15 May and end on 27 May. The vote will be on 28 May.