The Muslim holy month of Ramadan began at sundown on Wednesday, as the faithful prepared for a month of dawn-to-dusk fasting intended to bring them closer to God and to remind them of the suffering of those less fortunate.
For the next 30 days, Muslims will refrain from eating or drinking anything from sunrise to sunset.
Many will strictly observe prayers, read the Quran and donate to charity as they seek to draw closer to God. Family and friends will gather for joyful nightly feasts.
Muslims believe God began revealing the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad during Ramadan more than 1,400 years ago.
Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam and is required for all Muslims, though exceptions are made for young children and the sick, as well as women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or menstruating. Travellers are also exempt, including athletes attending tournaments away from home.
Those observing the fast must refrain from eating, drinking and smoking from sunrise to sunset. They are also encouraged to refrain from cursing, fighting, gossiping and road rage throughout the holy month.
After the last day of fasting, Muslims celebrate Eid al-Fitr, a festive three-day holiday during which children dress in new outfits and receive gifts.