NEW YORK (1010 WINS/AP) — Over a billion Muslims around the world began observing the holy month of Ramadan on Wednesday, with the dawn-to-dusk fast posing a particular challenge for the devout during the summer heat.

Some Muslims in South Paterson, N.J. told 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg that it is best to try and avoid conditions of dehydration.

“Try to stay in the shade as much as possible or take a cold shower,” one Ramadan observer said.

Ramadan is observed as a time of heightened religious fervor and giving to the poor.

Another man told Sandberg that despite the hot weather, Muslims shouldn’t make excuses about not being able to observe the month of fasting.

“This is a special blessing from God,” he said, “God does not put a burden on you that you cannot handle.”

The start of Ramadan changes every year, based on the sighting of the new moon at the start of the lunar month.

Some in South Paterson say Ramadan serves as a time increased reflection for them — including the condition of those less fortunate.

“When I’m fasting during the day, I feel how the hungry feel…how the poor feel when they don’t eat,” one man said.

This year, Ramadan observances are expected end around September 9.

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