CORNWALL, Ontario – Twenty years ago there were only a handful of Muslims in the city.
But, today the city has a sizeable community which easily gets noticed when major food chains advertise specials during Ramadan, the month of fasting.
The large grocery chains have been sending warm wishes for Ramadan in their public flyers with a section of food specials about popular food items like dates and sweets.
And national and local politicians, during election year, take a note of this event.
Wishing Muslims a peaceful Ramadan, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said this is the time for reflection, personal sacrifice of material comforts, and spiritual devotion through prayer, fasting and charity.
Cornwall Muslims, who are mostly from Asia, Africa and a variety of Middle East countries joined others around the globe in observing Ramadan which started June 18 and will end with big celebrations and feasting around July 18.
Ramadan dates are based on lunar calendar and vary from one to two days.
During Ramadan devout Muslims fast from dawn to sunset.
At this time of the year, the fast lasts almost 16 hours.
The duration of the fast vary from one time zone to another and from one season to another.
During the time of fasting, no drink or food can be consumed, thoughts have to be clean and followers restrain from physical needs.
This is the time to purify the soul and to refocus on spirituality.
Nearly 1.6 billion Muslims embark on this endeavor annually.
During Ramadan, the followers come together in prayers and in fasting to fulfill a ritual and also to fulfill the bigger role of serving humanity.
This is the time when followers think of those less fortunate and deprived.
At the end of Ramadan Muslims worldwide will celebrate with Idd-al-Fitr when families and friends share gifts and joyous feasts and fasting gives way to feasting.
Traditionally the observance of Idd begins with the sighting of the new crescent moon.