Muslim astronomy extends Indonesia's Ramadan fasting


People queue to enter a train station in Jakarta on August 25, 2011. Millions of Indonesian Muslims are heading home to their villages to celebrate the Eid al-Fitr holidays with relatives.



In Indonesia, many a glorious dinner spread is going cold tonight.

Religious leaders in the world's most populous Muslim nation have announced that Ramadan, a month of fasting and introspection, will go on a day longer than previously thought, Reuters reports.

The moon, according to Islamic astronomers, is too low in the sky. And the post-Ramadan feast doesn't end until the moon becomes visible.

This spiritual bummer nearly stopped the Eid al-Fitr feast in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, but a moon sighting committee deigned that a sliver of the moon could be seen. Muslims worldwide often take their cues from Saudi Arabia, the land of Mecca.

But the faithful in Indonesia, at least those heeding their government, will have to delay their feasts until dusk on Wednesday, when the moon is expected to sit high enough in the sky to start the party.

"The market has already shut, so for me to be able to cook a new dish...we might as well eat instant noodles for Eid al-Fitr," a Muslim Indonesian woman told Reuters.