Ramadan begins around the world amid Covid restrictions

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Millions of Muslims are observing the start of Ramadan, a festival that includes a month of fasting and prayer.

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image captionMuslims perform the first Tarawih prayer of Ramadan at the Diyanet Center of America in Washington, US, on 13 April

This is the second Ramadan to fall during the coronavirus pandemic, meaning some communities will be marking it amid Covid restrictions.

Believers taking part will not eat or drink anything during daylight hours.

Fasting is considered to be an act of worship, which enables Muslims to feel closer to God and strengthen their spiritual health and self-discipline.

Here are pictures from around the world showing preparations for Ramadan and the first day of the festival.

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image captionMuslims monitor the hilal on 12 April using a telescope in Palembang, Indonesia

Ramadan falls on the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar and starts with the sighting of the new moon, also known as the hilal.

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image captionWorkers install a giant traditional fanous lantern, a symbol of Ramadan festivities that dates back more than 800 years, in Gaza City on 12 April

The festival is considered one of the holiest Islamic months.

It's also one of the Five Pillars of Islam; the five principles which Muslims believe are compulsory acts ordered by God.

As well as fasting during daylight hours, Ramadan is a time when Muslims are encouraged to give to charity, strengthen their relationship with God, and show kindness and patience.

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image captionWorkers hang traditional fanous lanterns in preparation of Ramadan in Najaf, Iraq, on 12 April
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image captionIndonesians take a dip on the beach as part of the traditional ritual called Padusan to welcome the holy month of Ramadan at Parangtritis Beach, in Yogyakarta, Indonesia on April 12, 2021. Padusan is a Javanese tradition to purify oneself ahead of Ramadan

As Ramadan begins on 13 April, some Muslim communities will find their traditional practises affected by restrictions to stop the spread of coronavirus.

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image captionA worker sprays disinfectant to sanitise a mosque to help stop the spread of coronavirus on the first day of Ramadan in Peshawar, Pakistan

In the UK, the iftar meal to break the fast at sunset is usually shared with family and friends, but because of the lockdown, such meetings will be restricted.

However, while mixing between households was banned during Ramadan in 2020, this year the festival coincides with the easing of some lockdown rules in England.

Up to six people or two households can now gather outdoors and restaurants will be able to serve meals outdoors.

Elsewhere around the world, similar lockdown restrictions and rules are in place, such as wearing face masks whilst worshipping.

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image captionA view of Diyanet Center of America in Washington
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image captionA worshipper performs the first Tarawih prayer of Ramadan at the Diyanet Center of America in Washington, US (above and below)
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image copyrightAnadolu Agency

In a tweet, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) authorities asked people to "avoid evening gatherings during Ramadan, limit family visits, and avoid distributing and exchanging meals between homes and families".

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image captionTwo teenagers read and memorise the Koran during Ramadan at a mosque in Banda Aceh, Indonesia
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image captionMuslim students pray in their classroom at the Sirajussa'adah boarding school in Depok, West Java, Indonesia

In Bangladesh, the government announced a strict lockdown for one week, starting on 14 April.

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image captionPeople flock to a vegetable market in the Bangladeshi town of Barishal on 13 April before a week-long lockdown is imposed
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image captionPeople attend a street gathering in the old town of Iraq's northern city of Mosul on 13 April (above and below)
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image captionChildren pose in front of street art depicting cultural elements including mosques in Mosul's old town
image copyrightAFP
image captionA worshipper reads the Koran at his house in Panama City, Panama, before breaking his fast at the end of the first day of Ramadan (above and below)
image copyrightAFP

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