The Islamic holy month of Ramadan is on.
Prophet Mohammed said "When the month of Ramadan starts, the gates of Heaven are open and the gates of Hell are closed and the devils are chained."
Muslims fast during the entire month from dawn to dusk and engage in prayers and recite the Quran. It is a spiritual discipline, where they contemplate their relationship with God.
Whenever Ramadan falls when the academic year is well on, college days acquire a different tone, especially on the campuses in Kerala where over 80 million Muslims live.
Everyone treats one another with special care and respect. Trying to juggle with projects and college events with extra worship and prayers can be difficult at times. But sharing this joy with one another encourages and uplifts their spirits.
The ambience on the campus spiritually and joyously brings the Muslim students together. A special kind of community bonding arises as they join together in prayers and breaking the fast. There are times when non-Muslim students also join them during this period on particular days. During Ramadan they support each other to accomplish their Ramadan goals.
Observing Ramadan in college is very different from being at home. Teachers and students respect those who are taking fasts giving them good time to rest and pray. Students are very considerate when they engage with their Muslim friends, especially during lunch breaks and their prayer times.
Those who live far away from home face a lot of difficulty when it comes to food. In most places, the Ramadan timings are very different from the normal hostel-mess timings in college. Sana K, a Muslim student of M G University, Kottayam, wakes up at 4 am along with her friends to whip up something before the dawn breaks.
As the fasting comes to an end each day, the celebration is bigger and better with friends. They go for their prayers and break their fasts together. They even bring back dates and fruits for their non-Muslim friends back in their hostels and rooms.
"It is wonderful to be with them during this period. They keep up a certain level of commitment, especially for their prayers," says Neha Cherian, a Christian student at the MG University. She recalls enjoying breaking the fast with her fellow Muslim friends, in the evening, last year and looks forward to do the same this year.
Bringing a feeling of connection with one another, during this season, people of all beliefs on the campus come together either to pray or enjoy the meals with each other. "It creates a refreshing feeling that incorporates peace within us," says Sana, setting goals for this Ramadan season.