For many of my friends here in Eastern Turkey, Ramazan (Ramadan for others) is a time to get back on track with good deeds and self-discipline. People are generally nicer, drivers tend to use better manners (except right before sundown when hungry stomachs get the better of them), and people give more to charity. For those who participate, this really is a time of reflection and deepening of belief.
What most of us know about Ramazan is that people fast. The fast lasts from sunrise till sunset, during which time those who participate will abstain from food, water, smoking, and sexual relations. Fasting during the summer months is particularly difficult as the time for fasting is quite long, and while going without food is difficult, water is much more difficult in the heat.
Evenings become very important during Ramazan as people close up their shops to head home to eat with their families. Then they spill out from their homes and flood the streets after their bellies have been filled and their thirsts quenched. This is a time of gathering together and if you are lucky you may get invited to break the fast with a family, or you could break the fast with the local community in one of the many Iftar food tents.
For those travelling to Eastern Turkey during Ramazan there will probably be some inconveniences along the way if you are looking for places to eat during the day. However, sitting in a restaurant full of diners eagerly anticipating the call to prayer that marks Iftar (evening meal) is a true cultural experience. Stroll the streets of Van after dinner and there will be throngs of people shopping, eating ice cream, or just sitting in the park chatting with friends. It’s just something that shouldn’t be missed.
Near East Tours Owner