Because it's a Muslim country, Ramadan is a big part of Senegalese culture. The exact date of Ramadan changes from year to year because it's set using the lunar calendar (which moves forward about 11 days each year). This year, Ramadan is expected to begin March 22.
During Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn until sunset, refraining from food, water, and other physical needs. This is considered to be a time of spiritual purification and reflection, and it is a time when Muslims are encouraged to perform good deeds and acts of charity.
At the beginning of Ramadan, one tradition in Senegal involves everyone giving any extra money they have to help buy food staples like sugar, grain, and rice for others for the duration Ramadan. In Wolof, we call it “Sucaru Koor,” or “sweetening the fast.” The food is given to organizations, groups, youth homes, neighbors, family and friends to share our blessings with our neighbors.
It’s a beautiful tradition that reminds us that we are one. And as a community, we are responsible for every member of the community.
In Senegal, the breaking of the fast, or iftar, is a time of great celebration and community. Families gather together to share a meal and to celebrate the end of another day of fasting. Special foods are prepared for the occasion, including thieboudienne, a traditional Senegalese dish made with fish and rice.
Normally a vibrant place with singing and dancing, the muted atmosphere of Ramadan is a month-long exercise in gratitude, charity, and reflection.
Ramadan Mubarak to those who celebrate.Photo: Fatima Diallo