SYDNEY – Though remaining calm during the day, the streets of south-west Sydney suburb of Lakemba, Australia turns into a popular food hotspot during Ramadan nights, offering food and sweets till the early hours of the morning.
“Lakemba is the heart of Muslim Sydney; it’s really a multicultural ceremony,” Canterbury Mayor Brian Robson told ABC News.
The food festival has been running for the past 10 years during the holy month of Ramadan.
The big number of stalls lined up in the streets, which remain open until the early hours of the morning, offer various delicious meals from popular camel burger, chicken kebabs, Lebanese sweets to the fresh carrot juice.
Seeing it as “boosting the local economy”, Canterbury City Council stepped in this year to regulate the barbeques and food stalls by requiring people to apply for a permit to meet health and safety regulations.
"We've licensed 23 stalls this year," Mayor Robson said.
"We've met with the businesses in Haldon Street, and with their help we've actually regulated the use of the barbeques.
"We should be able to control it in a very safe environment."
The decision to license the festival followed the increase of the popularity of the festival over the past years.
"Last year, it was growing to such an extent that the stalls were actually going onto the road," Mayor Robson said.
"We encourage people to come along and to enjoy the facilities we'll be providing," he added.
Ramadan, the holiest month in Islamic calendar, falls this year between Sunday, June 29, and July 28.
In Ramadan, adult Muslims abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.
The sick and those traveling are exempt from fasting especially if it poses health risks.
Around the globe, Muslims observe Ramadan with a set of traditional rituals including family gathering at iftar, religious lessons, special evening prayer and helping the poor.
Marking the traditions of the holy month, Muslims flooded camel burger stall to get the popular food.
"It's become a tradition to eat the camel burgers at night," stall holder Yasser Elyatim said, adding that the camel burger has been the best seller after going through over 300 kilograms of camel meat in the last week.
"Come down and see what Ramadan's about and what we're about and the hospitality - this is Lakemba," he said.
Elyatim says all proceeds will go to charity in the spirit of Ramadan.
"All camel burger proceeds goes to the needy in Syria, it's the least we can do to help the needy," he said.
Musher Saleh, the holder of the carrot juice stall, said that the atmosphere was full of fun.
"We start from eight until four in the morning," he said.
"It's the best [atmosphere], we have so much fun.
"It's very busy because people prepare themselves for the next day to fast, so they eat a lot so they can handle the next day."
For those attending the festival, the food and buzz made a beautiful Ramadan atmosphere.
"We come here to buy almost everything; we try the camel burgers, the chicken kebabs," a father of two kids said.
"It's a beautiful atmosphere. I'm so happy and excited."
A young woman said the special time is about faith, family and community.
"It brings you closer to God, closer to family; it's something that you celebrate," she said.
Muslims, who have been in Australia for more than 200 years, make up 1.7 percent of its 20-million population.
Islam is the country's second largest religion after Christianity.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net - Read full article here
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