The holy month of Ramadan, also known as Ramazan or Ramzan, or the ninth month of Islamic calendar is drawing to a close and Muslims all over the world are gearing up for the celebrations of their main festival – Eid-ul-Fitr or Eid-al-Fitr. The word Ramadan is derived from the Arabic root ramida or ar-ramad, which means ‘scorching heat’ and it is one of the five pillars of Islam that include – Shahada (profession of faith), Salat (Prayer), Zakat (Almsgiving), Sawm (Fasting) and Hajj (Pilgrimage).
Ramadan takes place for 720 hours i.e. four weeks and two days during which the followers of Islam fast between dawn and sunset, pray for peace and guidance, give back to the community in the form of charity or zakaat or engaging in humanitarian activities such as feeding the underprivileged and introspect to enlighten their souls. During the end of Ramadan, intense prayers take place during the Laylatul Qadr or the Night of Power, which is believed to be the holiest night of the year.
It generally falls on the 27th day of Ramadan and is a commemoration of the night when the Quran was first revealed to the Prophet Muhamad. The end of Ramadan is marked by Eid-ul-Fitr or the first day of the month of Shawwal that is the starting of the next month and its translation means, ‘festival of breaking of the fast.’
Have you ever wondered why Ramadan and Eid’s date changes every year on Gregorian calendar? Well, we finally have an answer for you. This is because Muslims follow a lunar calendar instead of a Gregorian calendar that is followed by the West hence, the starting dates of all the months of the Islamic lunar calendar are marked by the sighting of the crescent moon.
While the West culturally follows the Gregorian calendar, the Islamic calendar is lunar which means it is based on the sighting of the crescent moon and every year, Ramadan and Eid-ul-Fitr occur approximately 10-11 days earlier depending on when the crescent moon is sighted. This is because the lunar months are shorter than solar months and so it varies from country to country by about a day.
If the crescent moon is sighted, chaand raat is marked in the evening after the last Ramadan fast. The buzz of chaand raat is unmissable, especially as Ramadan draws to a close.
Chaand raat is the time of celebration when families and friends gather on the terrace of their homes or courtyards or parks or any open places at the end of the last day of Ramadan to spot the crescent moon. Chaand raat marks the onset of the Islamic month of Shawwal and the day of Eid-ul-Fitr the next day but if the crescent moon is not sighted, Muslims continue to fast on the next day and Eid-ul-Fitr is celebrated on the day that follows after that.