Holy Ramadan, the lunar month of self-purification through fasting and abstinence from dawn to dusk, begins in Bangladesh Saturday as the new crescent moon was sighted in the country Friday evening.
The National Moon Sighting Committee made the decision in a meeting at the Islamic Foundation office at Baitul Mukarram, with State Minister for Religious Affairs Sheikh Md Abdullah in the chair.
Like millions of Muslims around the world, Bangladeshi Muslims are also going to observe a unique and unprecedented Ramadan in the history of Islam due to the novel coronavirus pandemic this year.
During the month, people in Bangladesh usually gather to share meals with their friends and neighbours and take part in communal prayers to observe the holy month.
For the first time, Muslims here would not be able to practice such festive customs as the government has imposed a ban on gatherings to stem the pandemic.
The government has said the number of people at mosques for Ramadan evening prayers will be limited this year as the coronavirus outbreak continues to escalate.
Because of the pandemic, the number of people allowed for prayers at mosques now is five, while as many as 10 can offer Jummah prayers on Fridays.
Normally, Ramadan begins in Bangladesh amid festivity. People indulge in shopping during the month, and hotels and restaurants display different types of delicacies for iftar and sehri.
But this time, it's apparently going to be observed in a gloomy mood as workplaces, as well as restaurants and recreational places are likely to remain closed throughout the month an attempt to curb the spread of the virus and maintain social distancing.
For Muslims, Ramadan is the month in which the first verses of the Quran, Islam's holy book, were revealed to Prophet Muhammad more than 1,400 years ago.
During the holy month, Muslims abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and sex from before dawn to sunset. The fast is intended to bring the faithful closer to Allah and to remind them of the sufferings of those who are less fortunate.
Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam, along with the Muslim declaration of faith, daily prayers, charity, and performing the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.