Having grown up in the Middle East, and having Muslim friends in my network, I was familiar with the onset of the holy month of Ramadan and have always respected those around me who are fasting. Joining family and friends as they broke their daily fast was always a rewarding and educational experience, however, since arriving in Canada in 2005, I was yet to partake in the Ramadan festivities. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, and the month in which the Quran was revealed. Fasting during the month of Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and many Muslims spend this month fasting during the daylight hours. They start their fast at dawn and don’t eat or drink anything until sunset. All this is done as a reflection of obedience, respect and spiritual development.
While I knew a fair bit about Ramadan, my husband and kids knew nothing about the holy month and so Masalamommas helped send us off to visit my aunt in Niagara-on-the-Lake to help her break her fast on the second day of Ramadan with some great Ramadan baskets loaded up into a Chevrolet Malibu that we got to try out for the drive there. As we buckled in the fully loaded 2015 Malibu, we were all eager to learn about the occasion and the rituals that accompanied the breaking of the fast, Iftar.
Our drive over was a peaceful one (yes, even with two kids under the age of two!) mainly because the kids were secure in the backseat and they had plenty to entertain themselves with. My daughter was busy with the Ramadan travel mug that came with crayons for her to design the outer shell and my son (who is too young to read!) was content looking at a Muslim Princess book.
Masalamommas had picked these educational items from the Salam Shop, Nutrimin Canada, SmoreTreats, and the PamperedMuslimah, WithASpin and they gave me some peace and quiet until they fell asleep! Once they were asleep I managed to get some work done by jumping on the Chevy Malibu’s WiFi. Yes! The car is WiFi enabled! The 2015 Malibu is the first midsize car in its class with available built-in OnStar 4G LTE Wi-Fi.
Here are my favourite features in the Malibu for our drive as a family:
My aunt had said she’d take care of the meal but as a true South Asian, I couldn’t go empty handed and so we did a couple quick stops to pick up some groceries, samosas and barfi on our drive over. Luckily the Malibu’s trunk had plenty of space for our travel gear, the groceries and even our crib! I should also mention that the mileage on the Malibu was fantastic as we spent less than $50 on our five hour drive.
I guess we could attribute that to the Malibu’s Start/Stop technology which is an innovative way to save on gas. When the brakes are applied (hello city traffic!) the engine shuts off and comes back on when you release the pedals, thereby saving fuel in a seamless, smart and simple manner.
On arrival at my aunt’s place the kids decided to run around and stretch their legs while we prepped the table for iftar. In Canada, Muslims can break their fast around 9 p.m. and so that’s exactly what we did. After my aunt prayed we dug into some dates and chai. Dates are rich in nutrients and offer the sugar kick needed after a day of fasting. In addition, Prophet Mohammad ate three dates when he broke his fast. As for the chain… every aunty needs her chai, right?
We also enjoyed the samosas, pakora and a traditional kanji. My aunt did tell us that the meal went a bit overboard! Traditionally Muslims are to have a simple meal consisting of the dates and kanji (rice porridge), without the desire to over consume to make up for the missed meals. When you have foodies in the family, it’s a bit difficult not to go overboard!
You don’t exchange gifts during Ramadan (that’s saved for Eid) but I couldn’t help but share the Ramadan journal from the Salam Shop. We also had a fantastic Ramadan Countdown Calendar, but my kids totally missed the memo and ate ALL the candy and opened all the gifts in one sitting. Patience is a lesson, littles one don’t want to learn!
Once the fast was broken and everyone was well nourished, we sat around and chatted. No heavy lifting was done as we enjoyed the outdoors on a warm day. In the Middle East and South Asia, most iftars happen indoors, but living in North America where the weather is so gorgeous at this time of the year, many families tend to gather on their patios and enjoy the fresh air.
Ramadan is a time for reflection and repentance but it’s also a time for families to gather and encourage each other live better and be holier. While I may not be a Muslim, I am respectful of everyone’s religious observations and open to partaking in the various occasions and celebrations. I enjoy exposing my kids to new traditions and teaching my ‘gora’ husband about the many different cultural rituals I grew up with.
For all my friends observing the holy month… Ramadan Kareem! The Countdown to Eid is on!
**This post was done in partnership with Chevrolet Canada. Opinions are my own.
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