Blessed Lughnasadh! That, however, is not the holiday I’m here to talk about today. Rather Ramadan is the topic of the day (of the month, even) and how it factors into my bellydance community.
For those unfamiliar with the month of Ramadan – it is the ninth month of the lunar Islamic calender, so it changes dates every year. To the Muslim community, it is a month of fasting from sun-up to sun-down. Chapter 2, Revelation 185 of the Quran states:
The month of Ramadan is that in which was revealed the Quran; a guidance for mankind, and clear proofs of the guidance, and the criterion (of right and wrong). And whosoever of you is present, let him fast the month, and whosoever of you is sick or on a journey, a number of other days. Allah desires for you ease; He desires not hardship for you; and that you should complete the period, and that you should magnify Allah for having guided you, and that perhaps you may be thankful.
Because bellydance comes out of the myriad of cultures in the Middle East, many dancers choose to respect the month of Ramadan in some way or another. The most common practice that I’m familiar with is abstaining from performances, particularly paying gigs (this is what my troupe does). I think perhaps it’s better to think of it as abstaining from public performances – we still dance together and perform at bellydance community events (haflas and the like) but not for the public at large. No fairs or stages, but rather dancing for dancers – coming together as a community to celebrate what we do for ourselves and for each other. If for Muslims Ramadan is a time for introspection and improvement, perhaps that is what we dancers should focus on as well.
And how do I, as a Pagan feel about this? Just fine. All too often we (as a society) get caught up in fighting for what we believe in and trying to keep it pristine. I think some inclusiveness and experience is a far better practice. “Fasting” within the bellydance community for the month of Ramadan makes sense – and it’s not a requirement. Some dancers/communities pay no attention while others simply acknowledge it and go about their business. To each their own. Personally, I feel my life is enriched by “observing” Ramadan in this fashion.
P.S. Don’t think I’ve forgotten about Lughnasadh – Enjoy my favorite jam for this Sabbat: