Farwah's Ramadan story

Cultural Heart People of Adelaide

Farwah, aged 29 - from Bangladesh

Being close to family was one of the major reasons behind Farwah’s decision to move to Australia two years ago. Born in Bangladesh’s busy capital of Dhaka, the city worker enjoys the advantages of living and working in a smaller city that’s big on charm and character.

I was born in Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh, a city of mosques and festivals. In 2018, we moved to picturesque Adelaide, to primarily move away from the hustle and bustle of a mega-city. Another reason for the move was to live closer to my siblings, as they all live here in Australia.”

Below, Farwah shares a little of her personal experience of Ramadan in the two countries she has lived – and what she looks forward to with the coming Eid-el-Fitr celebration.

Farwah in dhaka

FARWAH (Centre holding baby) in DHAKA with family.

What does Ramadan mean to you?
“Ramadan is the most blessed month for us Muslims. Ramadan is personally my favourite month of the year. Imagine feeling festive and celebrating every day, with the hope that Allah’s blessings are onto us. It also brings our families together.”

What practices do you undertake through this period?
“Adelaide being multicultural, one gets the opportunity to experience different cultures and enjoy these practices. Ramadan brings families and friends closer. From our cultural background, we enjoy sehri (early morning meal) and iftar early evening meal (to break fast) together. Preparing iftar is a festive and fun activity in itself.”

How is Ramadan in Adelaide different to Dhaka?
“The difference is that the whole city is not buzzing with festivities and celebrations. Back in Bangladesh, sharing iftar was a daily thing. Everyone would have iftar parties, send iftar platters to friends, families, neighbours. Every day we would feed the poor.

“Bangladesh is an emerging economy and on Ramadan, people are especially charitable. Zakat - which is an obligatory charity, is considered best when done during Ramadan, and as a result a lot of charitable activities go on. We make an effort to feed the less fortunate every day for 30 days. There are zakat projects where people who have to do zakat, try to set up businesses for the people in need to make them self-sufficient or help people by providing money for education/health purposes.

Farwah in adelaide

Farwah (first row with toddler) at her mate's Farheen Khurram's place.

“After iftar, we all pray together. Most people go to mosques to pray a special prayer called Taraweeh and this goes on for the whole of 30 days. Shopping is also important during this blessed month. All the clothing shops are busy till ‘chand rat’ - the night before Eid – the celebration at the end of Ramadan. In my opinion, Chand rat is the best: we start greeting each other by saying Eid Mubarak, put henna on our hands, prepare our clothes for the Eid day and of course, everyone’s busy cooking 20+ different dishes. On Eid day, everybody visits their family, friends and neighbours. The doors are open for any and every guest. It’s a beautiful celebration.

“Adelaide’s Muslim community has its own way of celebrating Ramadan. We have our own iftar gatherings or we send iftar to each other’s houses to share. We can go to the mosques and break fast and pray Taraweeh after returning from the mosque. Eid here in Adelaide is also fun. It’s a tight knit community, and Eid gatherings can become big with many people from diverse cultural backgrounds joining together. We still have sehri and iftar together. In Dhaka, our offices would close early for iftar. However, because the offices run like usual here, we can’t make iftar a big sumptuous meal every day. However, on weekends we try to make the most of it and do something festive!”

How have you adapted through Ramadan with the COVID-19 restrictions?
“The mosques are pretty great. They (normally) organise iftar every day and it’s nice to be breaking fast with other Muslims. This year, due to COVID-19, the situation is different of course. Generally, people also cook food and send it to the mosques to share with others. This is also a tradition back home and makes us feel great.

“(This year) we stayed in, however we have been sharing iftar by cooking at home and dropping them off at our friends’ places while maintaining social distance (like not entering their houses, etc). And likewise, we’ve received iftar from our friends here in Adelaide. We miss going to the mosque for Taraweeh but staying home means we can pray together at home after iftar.”

What are your favourite things to break fast with at the end of each day during Ramadan?
“I love to have dates, nuts and lemonade. These are must haves. And then we eat traditional fried food that we would eat in Bangladesh namely chola (chickpeas), muri (puffed rice), beguni (fried eggplant), piaju (fried onion), jilapi (a sweet dessert).”

How you will celebrate Eid al-Fitr?
“We would (normally) decorate our house, cook some amazing food, exchange gifts, have friends visit us. Usually we have large parties but, due to the current situation, we will be visiting each other in small groups and celebrating Eid.”

Farwah adelaide food

clockwise from blue platter: shemai, two dishes of shondesh, chicken korma, pulao, egg curry, beef and salad, chickpeas masala, cake.

As restrictions are eased what are you most looking forward to?
“Just hoping to meet friends during Eid while maintaining social distancing and maintaining the number of people allowed at one place by the government. However, I will definitely miss Eid prayers as that’s a big part of Eid for us.”