Ramadhan for the Turks is the “Sultan of Months” and just as the world observe fasting, the people of Turkey also commemorate fasting with all its reverence and piety.
The day is usually spent with great anticipation and after sunset, a drastic change happens conjuring a jovial almost festival-like atmosphere. The trees that lined up the streets are draped with fairy lights and mosques display sparkling celebratory messages between their minarets creating a perfect ambience of Ramadhan.
This is most noticeable in Turkey’s capital Istanbul where different coloured festive lights dance as people go about their after-sunset business.
All the restaurants are packed with worshippers eagerly anticipating to break their fast. Most restaurants offer special Ramadhan menus or banquets and tourists and non-Muslims are welcome to join the festivities of Ramadhan with the local populace.
When the right time comes to break the fast, the moadin (one who calls for prayers at the mosque) calls ‘aadhan’ (call for prayers) and the great light appearing on most mosque’s minarets signify that the breaking of the fast has commenced.
People in all walks of life start their ceremonial meals. Freshly-baked Ramadhan pidesi or ‘Ramazan Pidesi’ is shared and following iftar, more elaborate dinners soon follow.
Mosques in Turkey get crowded again after the last prayer because of Tarawih prayers, a non-obligatory yet very frequently performed prayer during the Ramadhan.
Yet, an unforgettable sight that makes Ramadhan in Turkey memorable is the sight of local drummers who go from street to street in the middle of the night, banging big drums and singing indigenous songs praising the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH). While the drummers were there to entertain, they also serve a very important purpose — waking up sleepers so they can prepare Suhur, the big morning meal before the fast begins again at sunrise.
In Turkey, the holy month of Ramadhan is followed by a three-day festival called Sugar Feast (Şeker Bayramı) held on Eid day.