The holy month of Ramadan began Aug. 22, and over 1 billion Muslims around the globe will be observing it by fasting from sunrise to sunset for 30 days. They’ll be waking up early for a hearty suhoor meal before dawn and an iftar dinner after sunset. Sound hard? Well, it is, but different cultures have found unique ways to celebrate this sacred time.
-The first day of Ramadan is greeted with fireworks and celebrations in the streets of Dhaka, Bangladesh.
-In Dubai, a loud canon booms when it’s time to stop eating in the morning and to break fast at sunset.
Muslims in Cairo keep things festive at night, reveling by staying up late after evening prayers to eat and smoke sheesha till the early hours of the morning.
Charitable iftar banquets are set up in the streets of Marbella, Spain.
For the Qatari celebration of Garangao on the 14th night of Ramadan, children in Doha dress in traditional attire and go from house to house, singing and collecting sweets and nuts from neighbors.
Special Ramadan bazaars decked out in glittering lights fill the streets of cities and towns across Malaysia after dusk, selling street food, clothes, and household items all night.
In a tradition dating back to Ottoman times, drummers descend upon the streets in Albania, Turkey, and Egypt every morning to wake people to eat before dawn.
Toward the end of the month, women in India and Pakistan celebrate the sighting of the moon marking the beginning of the three-day feast of Eid-ul-Fitr with a celebration known as chaand raat, or “night of the moon,” where they buy new bangles and clothes for the holiday and decorate their hands with henna.
In New York City, the Empire State Building is lit up in green to celebrate Eid.
As for me? In New York, far from my mom’s delectable Indian iftar fare of beef samosas and dahi vade, I’ve found my own creative ways to observe this holy month. No one likes to eat alone after a long day, so my friends and I meet up to break fast together at different restaurants almost every night, before heading up to the mosque for late-night services.
We’ll also be taking advantage of the warm evenings to host rooftop iftar parties or have picnics in the park. And on the weekends, I’m pretty sure we’ll find ourselves staying up all night and winding up at IHOP for a huge predawn breakfast!
Ramadan mubarak, everyone!
Sarah Khan is a copy editor at Travel + Leisure.