Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque in Istanbul will hold its first tarawih, a special evening prayer performed during the fasting month of Ramadan, in 88 years as the Turkish Presidency of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) decided to reopen mosques in Ramadan following a two-year halt due to pandemic.
The holy month of Ramadan will start on April 2, with the first sahur, roughly called “meal before dawn,” with believers fasting. The first tarawih will be performed in all mosques across the country on the evening of April 1.
Among these mosques is the world-renowned Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque, which was converted into a museum in 1934 but regained its status as a mosque on July 24, 2020.
With the rise in the number of administered people and the decrease in the number of COVID infections, Diyanet decided to reopen the mosques for the holy month.
Built in 537 as the largest Christian church of the eastern Roman Empire, Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque in 1453, after the conquest of Istanbul.
In 1985, Hagia Sophia was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Separately, dieticians started giving nutrition advice to believers who would fast through Ramadan.
“People should stay away from fatty foods in sahur,” nutritionist Nurdan Çeliktaş told Demirören News Agency. “These kinds of foods trigger indigestion, acid reflux, drop or rise in the blood pressure,” she added.
Recommending believers to make breakfast with dairy products or light meals like olive oil dishes, soup, or vegetables, Çeliktaş also reminded people to drink two to two and a half liters of water.
The nutritionist advised people first to drink a glass of water at iftar, the evening meal during Ramadan, after long hours of fasting. After soup or a salad dressing, she advised giving a break of 15 minutes before consuming the meal.
“After hours of fasting, people should not directly eat. After 15 minutes, believers can eat the main course.”
Çeliktaş said it would be better if people could consume yogurt while iftar and two hours after eating the main course.
Another nutritionist Deniz Pirçek prescribed milky puddings rather than desserts with sherbet for dessert lovers.
Sabri Çolak, a gynecologist, also warned that fasting might cause some health problems in pregnant women.