A particular period begins for almost two billion people in the world: the month of the holy fast of Ramadan, with all its import of prayers and traditions, renunciations and celebrations.
The anniversary recalls when in 610 BC the angel Gabriel, according to the Muslim religion, appeared to the prophet Mohammed revealing the Koran to him.
The start and end dates change constantly because Islam uses a calendar based on lunar cycles, which sets the recurrence 10 or 11 days back each year from the Gregorian one.
The exact start is determined by the sighting of the moon in Saudi Arabia this year scheduled for the evening of Wednesday 22 March with the fast to be respected starting from the following dawn.
However, there are Muslims who follow the slightly divergent indications of the
After Christianity, Islam is the world's second-largest religion—the widespread figure of 1.9 billion believers remains based on a 2010 Pew Research Center estimate. About two-thirds of Muslims live in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly in Indonesia, which alone has more than 209 million inhabitants, double that of the most populous Muslim country in North Africa and the Middle East, Egypt.
Daytime fasting - which also forbids drinking water, smoking and making love - lasts from sunrise to sunset.
The word Ramadan comes from the Arabic root ar-ramad which means "strong heat", "torrid", but this year, at least in the northern hemisphere, the daytime fast lasts less than in previous years, closer to the solstice of 'summer.
As always, children, the elderly, the sick, pregnant women, menstruating and breastfeeding women, people on the road are exempt from fasting, among others.
In general, according to Islamic precepts, fasting is only necessary if one is in good health even if - together with prayer, charity, pilgrimage to Mecca and profession of faith - it is one of the five pillars of Islam.
The end of Ramadan is marked by the holiday of Eid al-Fitr.