Public Ramadan celebration planned in Bristol May 21

On Monday, May 21, Bristol will have its first public Ramadan celebration, organized by a group of clergy and community members. The event will include speakers discussing the role of fasting in different faiths, an explanation of Ramadan and its rituals and traditions, breaking the fast at sunset and a shared meal (iftar).

Ramadan begins this year in mid-May and May 21 is the United Nations World Day of Cultural Diversity, Dialogue and Development. A press release from organizers said this date was selected to be Bristol’s commemoration of this worldwide event. The evening will foster appreciation of Bristol’s diversity and will stimulate dialogue and development of new relationships, said the press release.

For Muslims, the release said, Ramadan is a time for spiritual renewal. For an entire month, Muslims fast from dawn to sunset, while also performing charitable deeds and finding additional ways to treat other human beings with respect. Muslims spend time in devotion to God through prayer and study. Through one’s actions during Ramadan, Muslims hope to set an example for themselves as to how they should live throughout the year.

Families and communities gather and often break the fast together, inviting guests to the community gatherings to build mutual understanding and friendship and to share the “Ramadan spirit”. Fasting is a part of many religious traditions. “The May 21 event will include acknowledgments of our common spiritual practices and how much we share,” said the news release.

For those who so choose, the news release the group invites you to also fast for the day or maybe just delay your evening meal until 8:12 p.m. when after brief prayers, a dinner will be served.

The news release said this effort will serve several purposes. It will allow participants to share a bit of the experience that Muslims have each day of Ramadan, said the press release. It will make those who choose to do it, more compassionate towards those who are hungry daily because of food insecurity in this country. For many, going without a meal is not just one month a year, said the news release, it’s a daily occurrence. “Islam, like all religions teaches compassion for the poor,” said the news release.

Whether or not people choose to fast, all are encouraged to RSVP. Seating is limited. Email BristolInterfaith@gmail.com with the number of adults and children attending or RSVP on their Facebook page event by searching for @BristolInterfaithCoalition. Doors open at 6 p.m. at the Bristol Boys and Girls Club, 255 West St., Bristol with presentations beginning at 6:30 p.m.