Cloudy skies across most of India on Tuesday hindered the ancient Islamic ritual of moon-sighting necessary for declaring the holy Ramadan month, as millions of Muslims awaited a confirmation to prepare for fasting.
“From Delhi to Bihar to Manipur, the moon was not sighted,” a spokesperson for Delhi’s Jama Masjid said. According to custom, Ramadan will now begin on Thursday whether or not the moon is sighted, he said.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, when Muslims abstain from food and water from dawn to dusk. They must also avoid sex and shun worldly comforts, as a means of creating empathy for the poor and curbing desires. In Delhi, the Jama Masjid’s moon-sighting team, the Rohiyat-e-Hilal committee, which leads other “hilal committees”, launched frantic efforts to sight the moon with a pair of age-old binoculars kept especially for the purpose.
The moon’s setting time on Tuesday in New Delhi was 7.55 pm, according to the Met department, while the sun set at 5.22 pm, leaving clerics with a small window to sight the moon.
“We failed to get any confirmation of sighting the moon,” said Liaqat Khan of Darul Uloom Deoband, India’s best-known Islamic seminary.