20 Aug 2011

Fasting... or feasting?

Its that time of the year again - Ramadan - the month when we are supposed to abstain from all earthly delights - in whatever form - physical, emotional or spiritual. For most of us Muslims in Malaysia, Ramadan means one thing - to fast physically. Many of us forget, or maybe just don't realise that Ramadan does not only mean to fast or abstain from eating during the day but to abstain from all things evil or harmful to us, whether physically or emotionally. Thus it means to be free from all forms of wrong doing, whether physical or emotional. One is supposed to be free from anger and any form of malice, especially if it is directed at another human being.

If everyone adheres to the ruling then this world would indeed be a peaceful and safe place. But of course no one (or very few) follow such a ruling. Even where food is concerned, one is advised not to eat too much - gluttony is a sin, and one of the seven deadly sins at that. But come Raadan, bazaars mushroom everywhere. Today they are called Ramadan bazaars and food is plentiful. Just name what you like to eat, and provided you have the money, you can definitely buy it anywhere at the bazaar. The one near my house is a perfect example - all kinds of food and delicacies can be found there. Food that you have not eaten since you were a child like the serabai - a kind of pancake made with rice flour and eaten with a sweet concoction of bananas and brown sugar and coconut milk, can be found. Delicacies from the East coast states, from Sarawak or Penang can all be found at this bazaar. People from all walks of life will throng the place and come 6pm, the atmosphere is almost that of a fiesta; crowds of people pushing just to move, vendors selling their wares at the tops of their voices, and if that is not loud enough, using a hailer to make their voices louder and more noticeable.

I went there on the first day of Ramadan and vowed never to go again. First there is the crowd, then the noise and the smoke (from barbeque fires and others) and finally the amount  and variety of food available. I have been told - never to go food shopping when you are hungry - and oh how true that is! I bought murtabak, ayam percik, roti bom, tauhu bakar and rojak - food that can feed a normal family of four. Its not that I am greedy or a glutton, its just that the sight of so much food releases certain enzymes in our body which relays the message to our brain saying - "Buy, buy, buy!" At break time, after the euphoria of eating is over, I look at all the left overs and wonder as well as promise myself - tomorrow I will not indulge myself. I will eat less..."

Its well past the 15th day now and I still have not fulfilled my own promise. I still go to the Ramadan bazaar and buy up too much food again. My husband comes home from work and bring home some cakes he picked up at the office cafe, my maid prepares some favourite puddings or pie to add to the main dish. So in the long run we end up feasting... and not fasting. Hmmm... tomorrow my son is coming over for iftar with Emma. I wonder what I shall prepare .. better look at my recipe book.....