When it comes to Ramadan feasts, the culinary variety initially comes to mind. But the annual international photography competition "Capture the Spirit of Ramadan" proves the Holy Month can be a treat for the eyes as well. Here's a primer on the competition and how you can enter.
Launched during Ramadan last year by the Oman-based StudioBasel for Creative Solutions, the competition aims to showcase the work of professionals and amateurs from across the world.
"It is a platform for all photographers, Muslim as well as non-Muslim, to share their creativity with the world while delivering an intercultural and interfaith message," says the spokeswoman Lina Ali.
Last year, the competition received more than 1,000 entries from 40 countries, including Mauritius and the Virgin Islands.
How it works
The contest is open to all nationalities and faiths. Entrants must be 18 years or over. Submitted photographs should focus on the Ramadan theme, but that doesn't mean only mosque shots or people indulging in iftars. As the competition title suggests, the aim is to "capture the spirit" of the Holy Month in a visual way, so the more creative you are, the better.
Once you are happy with your photograph, send the image with a caption to the competition's email, firstname.lastname@example.org. The organisers will then post submissions on the contest's Facebook page (facebook.com/RamadanPhotography).
At Ramadan's end, the competition will be judged by a panel of judges (yet to be announced) who will be "looking at the impact and message, creativity, photographic quality, technique and composition", says Ali.
Entrants have until the last day of Ramadan to submit their images. Needless to say, all photographs must be taken during the current Holy Month.
As well as being Islam's holiest month, Ramadan also offers a colourful window into the fasting, lives and customs of more than one billion worshippers.
"For example, in the Gulf, there is Qaranqasho, a family celebration during Ramadan where children visit neighbours for treats, similar to the concept of Halloween. And in Indonesia there is the Haj act, where children circle a mock Kaaba to learn about and prepare for their pilgrimage to Mecca in the future," Ali says. "On a social level, the community sense of iftar gatherings, communal taraweeh prayers at mosques worldwide and family visits to the elderly and relatives also add to the colourful fabric of Ramadan."
It would be a shame to capture the month's spiritual and cultural splendour through a mobile phone's lens - hence the competition's ban on using them. "This competition is meant for professional and amateur photographers, so naturally they will have decent equipment," says Ali. "We are not looking for just snapshots, but creative, quality photographs."
The winner walks away with US$2,000 (Dh7,340); those in second and third place receive $1,000 and $500 respectively. Three Viewers Choice awards will also be handed to entrants with the most "likes" on the competition's Facebook page; they will receive $200 each. Honourable Mentions will also be given to two entrants (no cash prize). The winners will be announced in the last week of September via Facebook and email.
If you don't want to spend your Ramadan taking snaps but want to be part of the competition, you can purchase the Capture the Spirit of Ramadan book, which features more than 120 images from last year's competition.
For more information, visit www.capturethespiritoframadan.org