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Ramadan around the world: Lebanon
Ramadan in Lebanon, a war-torn country, is unlike any other Muslim country. Ramadan is celebrated here with a very relaxed attitude. More than half of the Lebanese population is Muslim and the rest is comprised of Christians, Bahai and ethnic religions.
Unlike in other Arab countries, not much change in people’s daily lives occurs during Ramadan in Lebanon. Restaurants, cafés and pubs remain open and serve regular meals throughout the day.
Many offer three meals a day in addition to iftar dinners. Non-Muslims can eat openly during Ramadan and the Muslims do not find that their practice is being obstructed. But most people are discreet about eating and smoking in Ramadan.
But Ramadan festivities are enjoyed by all communities and they are not restricted to Muslims only. Charities, civic organisations and businesses host iftar dinners for fundraising purposes to which guests from various religious communities and denominations are invited.
An annual iftar dinner is held at the presidential palace in which all community leaders and religious figures participate. Ramadan, like Christmas in Lebanon, is regarded as a national occasion as well.
Iftar in Lebanon is considered a family affair. Relatives are often united at one place to have iftar together. Neighbours, both Muslims and Non-Muslims, are invited to the iftar as well. Traditional lentil soup is a must.
A drink made of rose water, molasses and ice cold water called Jallaba is also a must have after fasting all day. Vibrant mezze platters, kibbeh, fattoush and many more traditional items are present on the iftar table.
Delicacies like baklva, halwa and kuanafah are usually kept for special occasions but in Ramadan they become a part of the everyday meal.
One unique tradition of Lebanse Ramadan is musaharati or Ramadan drummer. Mostly seen in Muslim areas like Tripoli, these drummers walk around the streets beating his drum and singing songs praising God and the Prophet Mohammed.
This tradition dates back to ottoman era. Musaharati wakes people up in time for sehri. With various technologies to wake people up, this tradition is seemed redundant by some but the practice is less about convenience and more about heritage.