KERALA, India - As Ramadan knocks the doors, a majority Indian Muslim population in Malappuram district in the south-west state of Kerala have welcomed the holy fasting month with an Arab flavored celebrations and customs.
"This morning, we went to the mosque for the first prayer session, which took place at 5.30 am," Sabry Hussain, an IT professional in Kerala, told Indo Asian News Service (IANS) on Saturday, July 21.
Hussain was among the growing number of young men and women from the state who have now started observing Ramadan fasting.
For the next 30 days, Muslims will abstain from food and water from dawn to dusk in Kerala state.
"It (observing the fast) depends on the situation at home," Hussain said.
In my team, some are Muslims and all of us observe the fast with seriousness.
Rafi Abdul, who runs a real estate business, said that Ramadan fasting was an occasion waited from year to year.
"My daughter, who is 13, is also fasting," said Abdul.
This is one occasion everyone looks forward to.
Ramadan is the holiest month in Islamic calendar.
Yesterday, Mufti Mukkaram Ahmed, Imam of Fatehpuri mosque, announced that the moon could not be sighted, announcing the first day of Ramadan on Sunday.
The decision was reversed later after contacting scholar in Hyderabad and Srinagar who said the first day of Ramadan would be on Saturday, July 21.
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 be closer to Allah through prayers, self-restraint and good deeds.
The majority of Muslims prefer to pay Zakah for the poor and needy during the month.
With a huge Muslim population in Kerala state, Ramadan is observed the way it is in the Arab countries.
Across Kerala, hotels owned by Muslims stay closed during the day.
They only open after dusk and see a rush of customers looking for the special Ramadan menu.
"Pathiri, made from rice or wheat flour, is one of commonest items. These are eaten with mutton, chicken, beef and fish. Steaming biryani is another popular dish," said Rahamath Beevi, a school teacher.
Fruit traders also hope to do brisk business with most people preferring to break their daily fast with fruits and dates.
"Of course, this is one month where we get advance orders for the next 30 days from wealthy Muslims. Everyday we deliver fruits to their homes. We deliver mostly oranges, grapes, apples and papayas," said K. Prakash, a fruit seller here.
There are some 140 million Muslims in Hindu-majority India, the world's third-largest Muslim population after those of Indonesia and Pakistan.