Welcoming Ramadan with price spirals, terrible traffic

Tanim Asjad | Friday, 8 April 2022

The holy month of Ramadan has started with a lot of enthusiasm among Muslims across the world. This year, Ramadan is more like one of the pre-pandemic years with no social restrictions and physical distancing. During the last two years, observance of the holy month was mostly confined to four walls of homes due to Covid-19. The social gathering was restricted and assembly for prayer in the mosques were limited globally. Mass vaccination, however, helped remove the restrictions almost all over the world. Thus, observance of Ramadan becomes as usual.

During the month, Muslims all over the world engage in special religious practices. They fast from dawn to dusk which is obligatory for all able-bodied adults for the entire month as it is one of the five pillars of Islam. Fasting is not only refraining from eating, drinking and merrymaking, but also avoiding any misdeed and rude behaviour and abstaining from evils such as lies, back-biting, and fights. So this is a month of practising restrain in all forms. As the Quran was revealed in this month, the Muslims also devote themselves to reciting the Quran more in this month than any other time as well as performing additional prayer at night beside the obligatory five-time Salat.

The Muslims in different countries have also welcomed Ramadan where religious rituals are mixed with local customs and culture. All are, however, observing the holy month amidst unexpected war and global inflation.  Being globally linked to each other, no country is entirely immune from the consequence of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war. Moreover, rises in the global commodity prices also make it costly for many to observe the holy month.

The Muslims in Bangladesh, however, have welcomed Ramadan with an unrelenting price spiral. Prices of essential goods and services have been on the rise for the last couple of months. The beginning of Ramadan does not bring any respite in this regard. Higher prices of foods during Ramadan have become customary. Though the pre-Ramadan price hike in the country is not a new thing, this year it is quite jittery due to several factors. The government has extended subsidised sales of selected food items for low-income people to give them some respite. The uncontrolled rise in prices compels many to cut their budgets for the two square meals in Ramadan - ifatar and suhar.

Terrible traffic on roads at the start of the month of Ramadan has increased the sufferings of almost everyone, especially fasting persons, manifold. Unlike the previous years, the government has kept all the educational institutions open during Ramadan to make up for the losses of school closure due to Covid. Lack of efficient public transport coupled with mismanagement of traffic and uncoordinated construction works in different places make matters worse.

An increase in private cars and motorcycles along with rickshaws and easy-bikes makes it difficult to manage the flow of traffic optimally.  People fasting dawn to dusk find it unbearable to spend hours in traffic congestion.  They have no way but suffer silently.

Despite such troubles, Ramadan is always welcome as it makes people to have a look into their own souls through prayers. It is a time to care, share and give. It is also a time for forgiveness for the sake of divine blessing. By properly doing all these, the month may be a time of uplifting the self for all.


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