BENDIGO'S Islamic community has started celebrating its holiest month of the year - Ramadan.
About 300 local people will abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex - from dawn until sunset - over the next four weeks.
Bendigo Islamic community spokesman Heri Febriyamto said Ramadan was a time of spiritual reflection and an opportunity to cleanse the soul.
He said it was also a chance to consider the poor and bond with Muslims on a global level.
Mr Febriyamto said young children, pregnant women, elderly people and the sick were exempt from participating in the holy celebration.
He said Ramadan ended with a special celebration known as Eid-ul-Fitr - which involves a feast with family and friends.
"We do praying during the morning and then celebrate during the evening," he said.
"It marks the end of Ramadan and fasting."