Article by Karolina Vakula, The Center of Dialogue and Conflict Transformation Intern
Holidays have always been a reason to gather and have a good time with family or friends and celebrate something special. One such holiday, hosted by the Center for Dialogue and Conflict Transformation through the Public Theology Forums was celebrated at LCC International University. On April 12, LCC students gathered together to celebrate the Muslim holiday called Ramadan. Students learned about the holiday from 3 LCC Muslim students. Ramadan is usually celebrated for the whole month, and it is in the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. The holiday is special and a valuable holiday for the Muslim community.
Feasting reminds them that they should be thankful for their lives and the food they have. It is also a time for a focus on sharing food and money with the poor. Muslims continue to fast for the whole month; this means that they are not allowed to drink and eat from sunrise to sunset. The day’s abstinence is offset by a pre-dawn meal called sehri and a nightly meal known as iftar. Muslims break the fast at sundown with dates to begin the special meal since it is a Ramadan tradition that has spiritual significance. The most surprising thing for me was that each day they have a family gathering and depending on their community, read the whole Quran in one night. As students got to know more about the Ramadan celebration and its importance, they had a chance to hear how one of the students read the Quran and prayed in Arabic. It was interesting to listen to the way they prayed and read since they don’t just say a prayer and read the Quran, they use a singing tone in reciting. At the end of the event, as we sat together on the floor, students were eating dates, fruits, and samosa and drinking dogh.
A few students shared their impressions of the event. Lika Kurdaze remarked that a highlight for her was that “volunteers of the event shared food with us, which perfectly proved the whole point of Ramadan” which focus on community Also, she learned that people follow Ramadan as soon as puberty begins”. Lika gave thanks to volunteers for organizing the interesting event. Another key learning perceived by Jana Ozolina is that “Ramadan is not only beneficial for mind and spirit but also for body as it renews itself during the process of fasting”. I believe it was a great idea to celebrate the holiday at our university since it was interesting to experience another culture and to get to know the values of the Muslim community. I appreciate the efforts of the organizers. Public Theology Forums provide an opportunity to come together and grow an understanding of the various faith experiences in our community.