Traveling to Iran During Ramadan
“When I was planning for a trip to Iran, it never crossed my mind to check the calendar for the holy month of Ramadan. So, when I arrived in Iran and saw that it’s the fasting month of Muslims, I got shocked. But it wasn’t like what I imagined. Every museum, mall or market was working. Furthermore, I experienced delicious Iranian meals of Ramadan among fasting people who gathered for “Iftar”. Although restaurants or cafes are closed during the day, energetic nightlife during Ramadan is another view of Iran which you can experience only in Ramadan.”
What Is Ramadan?
The holy month of Ramadan is the ninth month of the lunar calendar. This month is very important for Muslims, and they try to strengthen their relationship with God. So, for cleansing the inner soul and learning patience and spirituality, Muslims fast.
Fasting is a religious duty for all Muslims but with several exceptions. Patients, children, pregnant women, elders, and travelers are exempt from fasting.
Fasting starts from sunrise until the twilight after sunset. During the day, they don’t eat, drink or smoke. But after sunset, they break the fasts with a meal called “Iftar”. Iftar is a simple meal that is often enjoyed in a group with friends or family members. More complicated dinners are later in the evening or night.
Muslims refrain from eating or drinking to transitive the hearts from non-spiritual activities. Furthermore, they try to keep themselves from sinful behavior or speech. The purpose is cleansing the soul, being a better human, and so getting closer to God.
Ramadan ends after 30 days with Eid al-Fitr or the “Festival of Breaking the Fast,” and it is an essential day for all Muslims all over the world.
Traveling to Iran during Ramadan gives travelers this opportunity to see another aspect of Iran in Ramadan night, taste another part of Persian cuisine in Iranian meals in Ramadan, and learn about the religious culture of Iran better.
What to Do And What Not to Do In Ramadan In Iran?
Iran is an ancient country with a rich culture. So, respecting the Iran etiquette is an important point for both Iranians and responsible travelers. So, if you are planning to travel to Iran during Ramadan , there are lots of activities you can do during both day and night. Here we are going to list the most important things to do and not to do when you visit Iran during Ramadan.
Where to Go In Iran During Ramadan?
Culture and other historical sites like Persepolis are open usually. But the restaurants and cafes on the site will be closed. So, Ramadan doesn’t affect your visiting plan generally. Some sites may close around Iftar time. So before visiting a site, check the working time. The museums visiting schedule won’t change.
Since fasting people are not allowed to swim, the majority of the pools and water parks don’t work before sunset. But several pools work during the day and they are less crowded than the night.
Where to Eat In Iran During Ramadan?
Even though no one will force you to fast during Ramadan, it is polite to refrain from eating, drinking or smoking in the streets. The indoor restaurants in hotels work normally. So try to eat and drink inside the restaurants. If you want to try a restaurant out of your hotel, there are several restaurants in every city that serve lunch. After Iftar, all the restaurants are open and packed with locals.
Ramadan Nights In Iran
A bright, crowded night will come after a long, quiet day during Ramadan. Some places like Milad Tower in Tehran always have their visitors at night due to its fantastic view. But live nights in Ramadan give you an iconic view of this enormous city.
Around sunset, streets become less crowded as the fasting people want to have Iftar. But only a few hours later, the city gets back into the live atmosphere. Colored lights are switched on, the shops are open, and restaurants and cafes are packed with locals. Many people hang out in the cafes to eat and drink together.
Since fasting drains out body’s energy, Iranians stay at home during the day. They will go out at night after gaining some energy from Iftar. At nights, you can see food stalls everywhere on the streets, and the carts sell fresh seasonal fruits. The streets are filled with the delicious smell of different foods from kebab to corn.
In Ramadan, many cities never sleep. People nightlife changes, and almost all the restaurants and cafes are open until dawn.
Dress Code In Iran
This is a question many foreigners face when they decide to visit Iran: what is Iran’s dress code?
Iranian Meals of Ramadan
Iranian cuisine is amazing, and when it mixes with Ramadan traditions, it gets a new flavor. If you are traveling to Iran during Ramadan, you will find a special menu for Iftar items in every restaurant. Also, Iftar ceremonies are held in many Iranians houses. Most of the special meals of Ramadan are very famous throughout Iran. Also, different parts of Iran have their special meals in Ramadan.
On the Iftar table, you can find sweet tea, fresh dates, mouth-watering sweets, fresh-baked bread, and delicious cheese. Also, some kind of Iranian soups is prevalent in Ramadan like Haleem and Ash Reshte. Haleem is a thick and nutritious porridge which is made of wheat and meat. Ash Reshte also is a vegetable soup that has noodles and beans. The most famous sweet in Iran during the holy month of Ramadan is Zolbia Bamie. It is Persian doughnuts that are dunked in a tasty syrup with saffron and rose water.
For tourists who want to experience another side of Iran costumes, Ramadan, with its amazing Iftar and traditions, is one of the best opportunities.
Local Customs of Ramadan In Iran
In Islam, giving Iftar meal is very important, so people try to have Iftar ceremonies in their house. Also, Iranian love to stay up late at night during Ramadan. So even after-Iftar gathering is popular. Iranian gather with friends and family members and have fun.
Iftar parties are held everywhere and mosques and holy shrines arrange public parties. Many fasting people gather and have a simple Iftar together in the yards of mosques.
Reciting Quran, the holy book of Islam, during the holy month of Ramadan, is very important for Muslims. So recitals are held during Ramadan and mosques are packed with fasting people. They sit close together to recite Quran and remind its virtual awakening.
Three days of the holy month of Ramadan are called Qadr night, and they are crucial for Iranian Muslims. These nights, which coincide with Imam Ali’s assassination (first Imam of Shia), you can see some Persian customs in religious memorial ceremonies. In commemorating the martyrdom of Imam Ali, religious street theatres are held and free food givers decorate the streets by different drinks and foods.
Recently, Iran government took several steps to make Iran visa policy easier.
Different Parts of Iran During the Holy Month of Ramadan
Iran is a vast country with different cultures and traditions, and every part has its unique customs of Ramadan.
For example, in Khorasan which is located in northeastern Iran, at dawn, a man walks through the alleys and sing religious songs to wake up the people who want to fast. On the last night of Sha’ban, the eighth month of the lunar calendar, villagers wait for seeing the new moon. They go on the roofs or high hills to see the new moon better. When somebody sees the moon, he informs others by praying loudly.
Bushehr, a city near the Persian Gulf, has its amazing traditions. A traditional musical instrument that is called Dammam (it’s like a drum) is very famous in different ceremonies such as Ashura and Ramadan. During Ramadan, a group of young men take lanterns and play Dammam as they walk through the alleys. They sing:
Oh, my Lord! You are the coverer of our sins
Oh, my Lord! Everyone has slept but you are awake
So in this way, they inform the people the dawn is approaching very fast. So if they want to eat Sahari (a meal which fasting people eat before the dawn breaks), it’s the time.
In Shiraz, fasting people cherish the holy month of Ramadan. So they gather together in the mosques on the last Friday of Ramadan to say goodbye to this lovely month. They pray and ask God to provide what they want or need.
Why take a tour during Ramadan in Iran
- Etiquette: Ramadan is a holy month for Muslims. Taking a tour helps you to learn about the dress code, the traditions, and the culture of the Iranian people during Ramadan. Traveling to Iran during Ramadan allows you to experience another view of Iran besides visiting famous sites in culture tours.
- Guide: Every city has its nightlife hangouts, and a local guide knows all the hangouts in the city and can provide insider access that enables you to experience a place like a local.
- Safety: Although Iran is a safe country, some travelers don’t feel good about going out alone at night. So with a tour, you experience Ramadan nights in Iran while you feel safer.