The holy month of Ramadan has begun as many Muslims around the world begin fasting.
Egyptian store owners are trying to make the most of the season by selling lanterns which are traditionally used during Ramadan.
The call to prayer echoes across Cairo’s skyline as the sun sets.
Shops across Cairo’s old town are stocked with items typically sold around this period.
Lanterns hang from stalls in the shopping district.
The lights are an important tradition during the religious festival as Muslims fast by day and feast by night.
“Lanterns are an ancient Egyptian habit that goes back to the days of Fatimid when Egyptians went out to welcome an important person by lighting lanterns and since then it became a usual habit during Ramadan,” says Cairo resident Alaa Al-Ghandour.
Across the world, Muslims fast each day for the entire month of Ramadan, abstaining from food and drink from dawn to dusk.
Fasting is aimed at drawing worshippers closer to God through self-control, reflection and humility.
The challenge of fasting for many is also a chance to reset spiritually and physically as well as kick bad habits.
Whilst Ramadan is also an opportunity for shopkeepers to boost sales, some Egyptians are struggling to afford their usual Ramadan shopping list.
“To be honest the prices are too high in comparison with previous years,” say Cairo resident Ahmed Zakaraia.
Aside from lanterns, food produce flies off the shelf during the religious festival.
The Ramadan fast begins with a pre-dawn meal called “suhoor” to prepare hungry stomachs for the long day ahead. A typical suhoor often includes bread, vegetables, fruits, yogurt, tea, as well as lentils and beans.
At sunset, when it’s time to mark the end of the daylong fast, families and friends gather for an evening meal known as “iftar.”
And catering for these meals seems to be the priority.
“Customers are opting to save money to buy food rather than to buy lanterns. Nowadays the cheapest lantern costs 50 pounds (3 US dollars),” explains lantern shop owner Hany Salah.
(6 May 2019) LEADIN: