Ramzan (Ramadan) is the 9th month in the Islamic or Hijri calendar, which is a lunar calendar. It marks a period of fasting and is regarded as one of the holiest months in the Islamic year. Fasting is observed by participating Muslims from sunrise to sunset. It is intended to teach Muslims about patience, spirituality, humility and submissiveness to God. They ask for the forgiveness of past sins, seek future guidance and purify themselves of all evil deeds.
In addition to fasting, Muslims are encouraged to read the entire Qur'an. Some Muslims perform the recitation of the entire Qur'an by means of special prayers, called Tarawih, which are held in the mosques every night of the month. Ramzan is also a time when Muslims are to slow down from worldly affairs and focus on self-reformation, spiritual cleansing and enlightenment. They are to establish a link between themselves and God through prayer, supplication, charity, good deeds, kindness and helping others. Since it is a festival of giving and sharing, Muslims prepare special foods and buy gifts for their family and friends and for giving to the poor and needy who cannot afford it; this can involve buying new clothes, shoes and other items of need.
The social aspect of this festival includes preparation of special foods and inviting people for Iftari. At sunset, the family will gather for the fast-breaking meal known as Iftar. The meal starts with eating of three dates (khajoor) — just as Muhammad used to do. Then it's time for the Maghrib prayer, which is the fourth of the five daily prayers, after which the main meal is served. Over time, Iftar has grown into banquet festivals where families, friends and surrounding communities gather.
Charity is very important in Islam, and even more so during Ramzan. According to tradition, Ramzan is a particularly blessed time for charity. For that reason, Muslims will spend more in charity (sadaqa), and many will pay their zakat during this time. In many Islamic nations, it is not uncommon to see people giving food to the poor and the homeless, and to even see large public areas for the poor to come and break their fast.
Eid-ul-Fitr or Ramzan Eid marks the end of this holy month and the start of the month of Shawwal, after the new moon has been sighted. It is a day of joy and celebration. It is considered unholy to fast on this day. People put on their best, usually new, clothes; and communal prayers are held in the early morning, followed by feasting and visiting relatives and friends. Presents are also given, mainly clothes and money. Seviyan, haleem, sheer khurma, chicken and mutton biryani, khajoor are the typical foods eaten on this occasion.