the Ramadan Experience
09 July 2014
Iftar at Zuma & Suhour at La petite Maison – Welcome to Dubai!
Eating, drinking (even water) and smoking in Public is forbidden by law – Starbucks is closed. You may just sit down at any restaurant table & relax there without ordering – an eerie experience.
Dubai changes for Ramadan – the buzzing wonderland falls into a beautysleep during daytime woken only by a thunder at sunset. I wanted to experience Ramadan; to wait for Iftah – the break fasting ceremony at sunset – to enjoy the first taste of food after a whole day of fasting & to join in on the mindset of reflection and abstinence. I gave up food – for my participation hence combining the fasting experience with a detoxing one. Drinking fruitjuice in the morning followed by only water & coconut water throughout the day and then joining at sunset for the Iftah – hungry – but without suffering from dehydration.
Every hotel & restaurant offers Iftah during Ramadan – but if you want to experience the traditional feast, the place to go is definately the downtown Palace. Here, according to the tradition, the break fasting is initiated by eating dates first, followed by a soup, then a salad, and then a lavish buffet where the traditional whole goat & steamed fish with rice is served. I tried Camel meat Koftie & the Lamb, Beef Kebab, Pea Stew, and all the traditional foods from the region. For the first time in my life I saw whole steamed lobster tails stacked in piles on buffetplates for self service. Along with a varienty of amazing fruit juices, teas & shisha the Iftar experience lasts for around two hours. Followed by a break for relaxation & rest. At around midnight the Suhour – the second eating ceremony to ‚prepare’ for fasting – commences. This meal traditionally takes place in tents & lasts until about 2am. But Dubai would not be Dubai without that impressive dose of versatility, cultural fusion and contradiction. So instead of the traditional venues you may choose any place for either Ceremony. I tried both – experiencing Iftah in the Palace & the day after in Zuma. For Suhour I visited the traditional tent but also La Petit Maison. It pleases me to see the cultural bridge working so well – to experience open mindedness, tolerance and flexibility without loosening the bond to tradition and culture. I appreciated that I, as a non muslim, could participate – without disregarding my own values & guidelines.
This four day experience has left me feeling refreshed, detoxed, slimmed, full of energy and appreciation. One of the basic guidelines to my approach on life is that our lifestyle choices should be made for both body and mind – to bring together the needs of both entities in order to establish balance between them. This experience has definately served this purpose – letting me return home with a grateful body and as well as a grateful mind.