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Originally published July 20, 2012 at 10:00 AM | Page modified July 20, 2012 at 11:24 AM

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The faithful flock to pray, then play, in Jakarta

After Ramadan ends, the faithful, especially in major Muslim nations such as Indonesia, flock to festivities and visit friends and relatives.

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AROUND THE world, Muslims are praying and fasting through the holy month of Ramadan.

It's the annual period of somber introspection and charity that began July 20 this year, following the Islamic lunar calendar. The most observant Muslims, seeking forgiveness from Allah, don't eat, drink, smoke nor even chew gum from dawn to dusk during Ramadan. Evenings get more joyous when the fast is broken with shared meals.

Travelers in Muslim countries during Ramadan may find some restaurants closed and businesses' hours reduced, although the observances are as varied as the world's Muslims, estimated to make up about 21 percent of the earth's population.

But Muslims everywhere mark the end of Ramadan with the three-day festival of Eid-ul-Fitr. After Ramadan ends with special prayers and sermons, the faithful, especially in major Muslim nations such as Indonesia, flock to festivities and visit friends and relatives. Banks, schools and offices close for days. Trains and buses are jammed, hotel rates skyrocket.

And the joy goes late into the warm nights.

Kristin R. Jackson is The Seattle Times NWTraveler editor. Contact her at kjackson@seattletimes.com.

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