'Every Ramadan has been about tolerance'

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Every Ramadan has been about tolerance
'I was honoured to meet many Emiratis during my high school years and experience their warmth and friendliness.'

Dubai - There are two things constant during Ramadan that Melanie has experienced from her childhood to the present time - religious and cultural tolerance and Emirati hospitality.

by

Angel Tesorero

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Published: Mon 19 Jun 2017, 8:03 PM

Last updated: Mon 19 Jun 2017, 10:13 PM

Long-time Dubai resident Melanie Antao Fernandes, 45, recalls in her younger years, the temperature during Ramadan in the UAE was much cooler, unlike now.
She says: "If my memory serves me right, my first Ramadan was around winter time. It was a pleasant experience as my dad was home early from work and most evenings we'd be invited to his Muslim friends' homes for Iftar." 
As many of us know, the holy month of Ramadan migrates throughout the seasons. The beginning and end of Ramadan are determined by the lunar Islamic calendar which is 10-11 days shorter than the solar or Gregorian calendar. But despite the changes in seasons, there are two things constant during Ramadan that Melanie has experienced from her childhood to the present time: religious and cultural tolerance and Emirati hospitality.
"My first Ramadan in the UAE was when I was 10 years old. It was not just an introduction to a new country for me and my siblings but to new cultures as well," says Melanie, a communications consultant who has been a Dubai resident for 35 years and is also a mother of two boys.
"Coming from a Catholic community in Goa, we were exposed to many new Indian cultures too through our friends in school. It was years later that I met Emirati families and experienced their hospitality. I was honoured to meet many Emiratis during my high school years and their warmth and friendliness have had a positive impact on my love for this nation," she recalls.
Reminiscing her first Iftar, she says: "The first of many was a with a south Indian family. We had a delectable home-cooked spread. More importantly, it was a year of learning about Muslim prayer times and I thought they were so similar to the Catholic church bells back home reminding people to pray at dawn, noon and dusk."
From then on, Melanie affirms, every Ramadan has always been about tolerance and acceptance of cultures and religion in the country. "My Ramadans are filled with many Iftar invitations and I fast on those days to experience the true joy of sacrifice and fellowship of a meal with friends that have invited us," she says.
"Having lived here for more than three decades, this is home away from home. My children too are privileged to learn about acceptance of religion and culture here in the UAE," adds Melanie.
"My eight-year-old recently said he would like to try fasting like his friends in class," the mum beams with pride. 
angel@khaleejtimes.com
 
 



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