By Humphrey Carter OVER 800 Muslims in Palma joined thousands more across the Balearics and throughout Spain yesterday to celebrate the start of Eid al-Fitr, the three day holiday that ends the holy month of Ramadan. In Palma, the largest gathering was at the Germans Escalas sports centre in Son Gotleu, while across Majorca, in particular in Inca, Sa Pobla and Muro, similar celebrations were held early yesterday morning as over half a million Muslims across Spain marked the end of Ramadan. The three-day holiday that marks the end of a month of fasting, actually started half an hour before prayers yesterday with a special breakfast feast in Inca and Palma of traditional tea and sweet pastries. After prayers, Muslims celebrated a festive family lunch, similar to the traditional Christmas Day lunch, to mark the end of the fast. In keeping with tradition, some Muslim families would have sacrificed a lamb a few days ago in preparation. Some Muslims are taking a few days off work to mark the three-day holiday while yesterday, Muslim stores were enjoying brisk trade. For the past month, they have had to endure daylight fasting, during which time they have not been allowed to smoke, drink or have any sexual encounters.

The start of the Islamic holiday Eid al-Fitr depends on the sighting of the new moon and there is always some confusion over when Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr begin.

Some Muslim countries started their celebrations on Monday, while Egypt and most others started yesterday.
For Muslims, Ramadan is a month of “purification” and while they are allowed to eat between sunset and dawn, many try to east as little as possible, maybe some dates, fried eggs, soup and coffee, their religion advises them to eat products high in glucose for energy. Afkir Abdellah, president of the Assabre Association said “some people may think it extreme, but we believe it to be positive, it's very good for the body and you feel better.” Most Muslims try to take the daylight hours as easy as possible, many talk and pray “it's a very spiritual time.” Over the past few years, the Muslim community has grown steadily in Majorca and yesterday the Ramadan celebrations attracted a great deal of interest.