Sunday, August 12, 2012

What Was I Doing Fasting for Ramadan?: Try Fasting Part II

Last year my friend, Amanda Quiraishi  (we call her Q) suggested I try fasting for Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, as part of a one-day, interfaith experiment. I chose to join and it was a good decision. The event was a success in terms of the participants enthusiasm for  fasting, the support each gave one another and the conversation generated. This year, Q expanded upon the theme, convincing many more folks to "try fasting" and hosted an Iftar (break the fast dinner) at her home. Needless to say, the conversation in Q's living room that evening was exceedingly interesting. The goal of fasting in observance of the holiday is to realize how fortunate we are not to worry about hunger and poverty as millions on the planet still do. Yet another benefit is understanding that our religious differences are outweighed by our similarities.

A noticeable difference in Try Fasting this year to last was the amount of charitable acts folks performed in honor of Ramadan. Rob Quigley distributed water and snacks to homeless folks in Austin. Genevieve Pardo impulsively covered the cost of groceries for a customer in line next to her who did not have enough money to purchase food for herself in Florida. Hannah Kapasi volunteered pro-bono legal assistance. Many donated money to their chosen charity. In all, the good energy sent into the world was awe inspiring. I could not get over how amazed I was at myriad of good deeds performed humbly and selflessly. The idea of "paying it forward" really DOES work. The idea of Try Fasting is brilliant, as it our friend, Q whose work in this area I have been admiring since I met her at a blogging event.

As each of us coped with fasting that day and reflected upon our experiences and shared with each other, I was reminded that this feeling of camaraderie and hope stemmed from the variety of people involved and the realization that we were sharing the experience, that is, we were not alone in our slow realization of what Ramadan really means and why Muslims are "just like us". The same realization extends to who we share the Earth with. We begin to understand that human behavior is universal and our differences are minuscule. Regardless of where we live, what we believe, who we pledge our allegiance to, man has the same basic wants, needs and desires. No one culture is the proper way to do things. Rather, we begin to understand there are many paths that lead to the same destination.

Personally I have observed benefits in my own world as a result of participating in Try Fasting; I feel more gratitude, I became more compassionate and aware of others in need, I feel more optimistic and most significantly, I feel hope for our future. Those results are convincing enough to give others reason to Try Fasting. I know I will be there with the rest of our group next year. In fact, I am looking forward to it.

Q's post-mortem blog post provides screen shots highlighting the conversation and and an excellent overview of the day.

Had to share a shots of the delicious meal featuring traditional dishes and an amazing dessert:

The star of the meal was the stew in the foreground, which contained beef, garlic, onion lentils and spices that we topped with fried onions, fresh ginger, lime, cilantro and jalapeno. 

Shahi Tukhra (Royal Portions)

Special thanks to Amanda Quirishi, Sarah Vela, Rob Quigley, Stacey K Face, Anwar Pandit, Kay Marley-Dilworth, Sadia Termizi, Jane Grenier and everyone that participated. See the entire conversation on Facebook by visiting the Try Fasting Group Page

Have you ever fasted for religious purposes? What was your experience like? Did it change the way you view the world?