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I've experienced Ramadan in three culturally distinct countries: India, my birth place, Saudi Arabia, where I spent my early childhood, and United States where I have lived for the past 15 years. The mental, physical, and spiritual struggles were and have been consistent throughout all the Ramadans I’ve been able to observe.
However, there is one particular Ramadan in which I spent almost one week in the largest Mosque in the world, Masjid al-Haram, in Mecca Saudi Arabia that sticks out in memory.
That was an experience like no other. I can't compare it to anything else I have experience in my life. The aura the mosque embodies is all consuming. When I saw it for the first time, I recall being overwhelmed with joy but also with strange sensations of apprehension nervousness. However, once I walked into the Mosque, I left two of those feelings at the door steps.
Breaking my fast in the mosque after the Maghrib prayer (sunset) with millions of people for a week was absolutely surreal. To pray all the five payers from when dusk broke until the last payer at night was incredible. There was a sense of oneness and peace I felt there which I have no words to describe. I was 14 years old at that point and I can’t wait until I have another opportunity to experience that again with the awareness and maturity I have accumulated since then.