Today is Saturday or Sabado, the 6th day, and the end of my first week of work here in Guinea Bissau.
Yesterday, the appearance of the moon in the sky above also marked the end of Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting during which participating Muslims refrain from eating, drinking (this includes water!) and sexual relations from dawn until sunset.
This has been widely apparent, as 40-50% of the population here practices Islam, and their abstinence has often become apparent through their absence during evening meals. Most tend to rise early, and fill their stomachs before the sun comes up, perhaps get some sleep during the day, and then feast as soon as darkness sets in again.
This custom is only carried out by adults though, as children, although eager to emulate their parents and other adults around them, are under no obligation to partake and are refused this right by their parents until they deem them old enough.
To take it’s place, now begins the festival of Eid ul-Fitr, during which food is donated to the poor, everyone puts on their finest, and usually new, clothes, and communal prayers are held in the early morning by a large mosque nearby. Sadly I missed this sight yesterday, but I heard that it was a sight to behold – an ocean of people rising as waves across the plain, an undulating wave harmonious with calling of the prayer, a myriad of splendid and vivid colours, reflecting in the sun.