Islam: Ramadan starts, consumption and prices boom

First day scheduled on Saturday

18 July, 14:40

(ANSAmed) - TUNIS, JULY 18 - Islam's holy month of Ramadan, a month of fasting in the hours of daylight, one of the religion's pillars, will begin on Saturday. Ramadan - like other non-Muslim religious holidays, notably Christmas for Christians and Purim for the Jews - has a spiritual side and a more material side. After Muslims are forced to abstain from food, sexual relations and smoking starting with the first prayer in the morning before sunrise and the last prayer of the day after sunset, they traditionally enjoy large meals and food prices are usually raised in spite of government plans to block them and increase food supplies. Such measures regularly fail as producers and retailers speculate on prices of food mostly enjoyed by Muslims such as eggs, milk, white meat and vegetables, forcing families to exceed their budgets at a time when the prolonged fasting usually leads to more than double their food consumption, market researches show. Exceptions to the fasting only concern children, old people, the sick and athletes, if previously authorized.

Restaurants remain closed during the day and open at night, often offering performances during dinner.

This year the Saudi Arabian wise men and astrologists determined that Saturday would signal the beginning of Ramadan, creating surprise in those who believed that Friday would be the first day of the holy month this year. Many, mostly Gulf residents, believe starting Ramadan on Friday is bad luck and could even lead to the death of a king or sheik.

But in Tunisia starting the holy month on Saturday is the sure sign of a bad year. (ANSAmed)

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