Ramadan: A Time to Reset, Slow Down and Contemplate

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Everyone relates to and approaches festivals differently. For me, most Hindu festivals are less about rituals and ceremonies, and more about culture and socializing. So, when I chatted the other day with our Visual Communications Senior Manager, Lara Jundi, I had to ask her about Ramadan and what followed was a personal and emotional conversation – for both of us. 

Here is an excerpt of our conversation: 

“For me, Ramadan is a time for a reset, a time to slow down, a time for contemplation – a time to become the best version of myself through meditation and self-reflection. It is at once one of the most challenging times of the year and the most rewarding. This year it falls between April13 to May 13 in Vancouver as it follows the lunar calendar which has an offset from the Gregorian calendar. During this month those who observe Ramadan do not eat or drink between sun up and sundown and spend as much time as possible in prayer and meditation. And on sundown, you give your body enough to sustain the next day. This is a time of self-denial —of food, drink, sex, anger—everything that boosts our sense of self, our ego, our wants. By doing that, the spirit—which tends to be suppressed by these very human wants—has a chance to bubble up and shine. It is also a time for charity and generosity.

So in a way, this month is a time to listen to, nurture and support your spirit leading to contemplation and self-reflection. 

In most Islamic countries work hours are shorter to enable people to devote time to meditation and prayers during this month. Working in Canada means I have to adjust my schedule a bit to allow for this. During Ramadan, I start my day with a coffee (before sun up) and tend to work earlier in the day when my energy levels are high. It can be tough to work through a full day and then devote time to prayer and meditation in the evening, so I try to listen to my body and push as much as I physically can.

There is something amazing about this time of the year (perhaps more so than others). And that’s the sound of the Adhan, the call to prayer (I use a digital app to listen to it here, although it is no match for the real one). I also go to the mosque for night prayers. There is a unique sense of unity where family, friends and strangers alike follow one rhythm, one beat. The prayers include recitations from the Quran like the Sourat Al Fatiha. All with the goal of connecting with the source and thus elevating one’s spirituality and hopefully strengthening the soul for the next 11 months to come. It’s a perfect way to reformat yourself, unlearn and relearn.”

With every word that Lara said, I kept going back to some of the rituals, prayers and ceremonies I grew up around. I am by no means a religious person, but I could relate back to that sense of mystique and awe that Lara talked about and feel it listening to the Sourat and the Adhan. It’s not unlike the feeling I get listening to the Sanskrit hymns and Veda recitals I grew up hearing my parents recite, the sense of calm that some ancient temples can bring, the culture and social aspect of festivals, the coming together to celebrate, the sense of sharing and community. Our cultures couldn’t be more apart—can even be at odds at times—but at the same time, there are so many ways they subtly intersect.

Most importantly the notion to devote time to nurture your spirit, to unlearn and relearn and pay attention to our inner feedback loops is something that we could all benefit from.

Eid Mubarak!

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