THE excitement starts when people first catch sight of the Ramadan moon. There is a hustle and bustle in the streets deep into the night as people start preparing for the month of fasting by stocking up on essentials. The men head to the mosques for Taraweeh prayers, while the women start preparing the Suhoor (pre-dawn) meal.
To wake everyone up for Suhoor a man tours the neighborhood before dawn, banging on an empty tin. The noise is loud enough to rouse people. The tin he uses is a cheap replacement for the more traditional drum.
Most Pakistanis prefer something substantial for breakfast, such as paratha (buttery flaky flat bread) eaten with a curried dish of their choice. Jalebis (crisp fried orange spirals soaked in sugar syrup) in milk are also a favorite. Whatever the choice of breakfast, it is always followed by tea.
Food shops and restaurants generally open during Suhoor time then close for the day, only re-opening around at sunset.
Normal working hours change in Pakistan so that people go to work earlier than normal in order to return in time for Iftar. School children love Ramadan because classes finish early.
Preparations for the evening’s Iftar meal begin as early as mid-day. Every home is sure to have pakoras (fried vegetable fritters) to open the fast, in fact Iftar would be incomplete without them! People also enjoy fruit chaat (spiced fruit salad) dhai bhaley (spicy dumplings in yoghurt), and samosas are very popular with everyone.
Restaurants also have special menus for Sohoor and Iftar, so many people go out to eat during Ramadan. After the Iftar meal the men go to pray Taraweeh prayers at the Mosques, while women might gather in a local house to pray together. Everyone returns home to finish the day with tea.