This year's Ramadan fell on some of the hottest days Hamilton has seen this summer — but the oppressive heat, blackouts and massive storm didn't stop the city's Muslim community from celebrating the holy month of fasting from dawn to dusk.
In fact, the extreme weather conditions didn't make fasting any more difficult, says Raza Khan, spokesperson for the Muslim Association of Hamilton. Observants are eased into the hot summer days year by year as Ramadan, which follows the lunar-based Islamic calendar, starts 10 days earlier every year.
"We own up to the heat," Khan said. "We conduct our lives normally as we would every day."
To mark the end of Ramadan, which ran from July 9 to Aug. 7 this year, Hamilton's 30,000 Muslim celebrated the holiday Eid al-Fitr Thursday morning at mosques across the city.
Hamilton Mountain Mosque alone saw more than 3,000 visitors. The assembly was so large that the mosque had to hold two prayer sessions. Volunteers occasionally ushered people to sit closer to make room for the crowd streaming through door.
Platters of cinnamon buns and other sweets were served. Festive treats like gulab jamun, a timbits-like dessert made with cheese, and barfi, a milk-based treat, were also very popular.
Ramadan is also a month of special prayers, blessings and good deeds. To keep with the Ramadan spirits, several mosques in Hamilton have been helping the less fortunate locally and beyond. They have been collecting canned food for the city's community food program Neighbour2Neighbour and the Syrian refugee food project.
"When you are fasting during the day, you realize you are not able to have food on your table all the time," said Uzma Qureshi, secretary of the Hamilton Muslim Association. "This heightened awareness really helps make you think of charities."
Although this year's Eid fell on a Wednesday, Khan said many Muslims will take the day off to visit friends and relatives.
"This is like Christmas. You don't work on Christmas," he said.