DUBAI – Every year, Indian Hindu expatriate Jaideep Sai Naidu joins festivities and celebrations marking the start of the holy fasting month of Ramadan with his Muslim friends in the United Arab Emirates.
Though he does not always participate in the fasting, he enjoys the spirit of unity spread during the holy month.
“The best part of Ramadan, regardless of whether you see your friends or not throughout the year, is that at this time everybody starts getting together and people call me to invite me for iftar meals with them,” the 24-year-old told The National on Thursday, May 25.
“During Ramadan, I receive between 15 to 20 iftar invitations as 90 per cent of my friends are Arab Muslims.”
Thousands of miles away in his home India, Naidu’s parents also get into the special Ramadan spirit and invite the family’s Muslim friends for iftar at their home.
Naidu also enjoys the vibrant life of Ramadan nights.
“Everywhere you go there are offers and sales and great deals, not just for small things but also all the way to cars. It is like the second Dubai Shopping Festival for everyone,” he says.
“Also, everything is open until late. You feel like life does not stop. People like me can generally enjoy themselves until late, and then I even go to suhoor with my friends,” said the entrepreneur, who runs a start-up construction company.
Witnessing many Ramadans, Naidu said his curiosity led him to read the Qur’an, adding he will convert to Islam to marry his Muslim fiancée.
Fasting for some Ramadan days, Naidu said that those days have taught him the value of food and how the poor, hungry people in the world feel.
“You feel you want to help, donate and give to charity,” he said.
“With my fiancée’s encouragement, I end up once or twice during Ramadan visiting orphanages and elderly care homes and that makes me see things in a different perspective.”
Ramadan is the holiest month in the Islamic calendar.
In Ramadan, adult Muslims, save the sick and those traveling, abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.
Muslims dedicate their time during the holy month to become closer to Allah through prayer, self-restraint and good deeds.
It is customary for Muslims to spend part of the days during Ramadan studying the Noble Qur’an.
Many men perform i`tikaf (spiritual retreat), spending the last 10 days of the month exclusively in the mosque.