26 October 2006

End of Ramadan

Tuesday was Eid, the final day of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, and I awoke to the sound of amplified prayers coming from the direction of Ala-Too Square, which I walk by each day en route to work. (The Muslim calls to prayer, five times each day, often get drowned out by urban noises, though I usually hear the one at seven each morning because the caller often walks through the commons area in back of my apartment complex.) When I went out for a run a little later in the morning, I discovered that the streets and sidewalks leading to the square were full of parked cars and people walking, many with the rolled-up prayer rugs. I soon discovered the center of the activity was the broad street in front of the national parliament building and the university, where I stopped and listened to the prayer leader and watched the faithful, mostly men and numbering more than a thousand, all facing the same direction and standing, kneeling and bowing in unison. On the outskirts from the assembled were the beggars, who are typically disabled persons and women in long dresses and headscarves with small children.

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