6 Unique Ramadan Traditions From All Around the World
Ramadan is coming, started with community in every country doing daily routines of fasting, charities, prayer and time with family all playing n an important role of the people. But also, there are lots of cultural traditions mixed with the routines of Ramadan and it makes Ramadan in every territory could be differ. Greatly from Kuwait to Indonesia, Muslim communities have their own uniqueness of celebrating the holy month. And here are the top six as it is published by The National.
Gerga’aan – Kuwait
Ramadan in Kuwait is flush with Ramadan in Kuwait is flush with post-iftar visits to family, friends and neighbours. But a doorbell ringing two weeks into the holy month summons the beginning of gerga’aan, the three-day celebration that sees children knocking on the doors of neighbours’ homes and singing in exchange for sweets and chocolate. There are two traditional songs that children sing during gerga’aan – one for for girls and another for boys. But both can be customised to include the names of the hosts’ children.
The tradition is practised throughout the Arabian Gulf but certain aspects, such as the timing and name, differ from country to country. In the UAE, it is known as Haq Laila and celebrated two weeks before Ramadan. The word "gerga’aan" itself is the source of much dispute in Kuwait, with a common argument revolving around whether the word is an acronym for the saying "Blessings on the month" or simply a Bedouin word meaning "mixed".
Kunafa – Palestine
Countries around the Islamic world have their own special desserts that are commonly eaten during Ramadan. But perhaps none is as famous as Kunafa – the Palestinian street food of piping hot soft cheese and semolina dough, drenched in syrup and topped with crushed pistachios and food colouring to turn the dessert bright orange, often to the point of being fluorescent.
Believed to have originated in the West Bank city of Nablus, kunafa is eaten all year round, both in Palestine and across the Middle East, where it appears in various forms. But it has become particularly associated with Ramadan, a time when the evening – and eating – hours are often celebrated with sweet treats. And what a treat this is.
The combination of the slight saltiness of the cheese and the sickly sweetness of the syrup, along with the contrasting textures of the gooey, smooth cheese and sightly rough and crunchy dough make for a moreish dessert that is a delight for the taste buds. Today, Nablus is still renowned for having the best kunafa in the world, with vendors across the city scooping it up for customers out of huge, round metal trays.
Traditional Lanterns – Egypt
The lantern – known as "Fanoos" in Arabic – has become a symbol of Ramadan across the Middle East. Typically made of metal and coloured glass, decorative lanterns are hung everywhere from homes and malls to streets and Ramadan tents during the holy month. But with Cairo considered the birthplace of the fanoos, it has a particularly special place in the hearts of Egyptians.
As with many traditions associated with religious festivals, lanterns hold a cultural – rather than religious – significance for Muslims observing Ramadan, and are sometimes likened to Christmas trees. Accounts differ as to how the fanoos came to be associated with Ramadan, but all appear to stretch back to the 10th century when the Fatimid Caliphate ruled large swathes of the Muslim world from Egypt.
Nyekar – Java, Indonesia
Home to two-thirds of Indonesia’s 234 million Muslims, Islam has for centuries melded peacefully with local customs and traditions. This is particularly true of the way in which Ramadan is observed, with ceremony and ritual playing an important role in preparations for the holy month. For Javanese, Ramadan is a time for introspection and renewal of faith and marks the end of one life cycle and the beginning of another. Before undertaking fasting, a person must first pay their respects to their forefathers by visiting the graves of dead relatives to decorate them with flowers and pray.
During their graveside prayers, Javanese Muslims may ask God for – among other things – good fortune or good health if they are ill. This ritual, known as nyekar, usually takes place the week before Ramadan begins, with families crowding cemeteries across the island. In some parts of Java, Muslims even visit the graves of ancient kings and revered public figures during nyekar.
In rural areas, Javanese also make food offerings – for Allah and their ancestors – when visiting the graves of relatives in a ritual called nyandran. Lines of women, balancing baskets of food on their heads, travel to cemeteries on foot to make their offerings, often having to walk several kilometres. Rich Javanese typically offer small cakes and fruits but poorer devotees will offer whatever they are able to spare.
Padusan – Java, Indonesia
Another enduring Javanese tradition observed before Ramadan is padusan, a bathing ritual intended to purify the body and soul before embarking on fasting. A week or so before the start of the holy month, adherents wearing sarongs walk in procession to rivers, natural springs or the sea, carrying baskets of food on their heads.
After completing the ritual, which involves splashing their faces and arms with water, they gather for a communal prayer before sitting on the ground to eat their food from banana leaves. Many Javanese like to perform the ritual at natural springs because the water is seen as coming directly from mother earth. Such springs are often a considerable distance from towns and villages, which means devotees must carry enough food and water to last an entire day.
In the cities of Yogyakarta and Solo, the local sultans lead their relatives and household workers on lavishly ceremonial walks to pools in the grounds of their palaces, which are strewn with jasmine and rose petals. After the bathing rites are complete, they return to the palaces for prayers and feasting.
Iftar Picnics – India
Anyone who enjoys food and lives in Delhi – whether Muslim or not – knows there is only one place to be on a Ramadan evening: the alleys and streets of the old, walled city, where fasts are broken with picnics on mosque terraces and treats from street vendors. The alleys run like capillaries from the Jama Masjid, the heart of Old Delhi and the grandest place in the city to perform the evening prayer. In these courtyards, hundreds of Muslims gather each night to break their fast, unless Ramadan happens to fall in the coldest depths of winter. They lay large sheets of cloth on the flagstones on which to sit and eat iftar dishes prepared at home.
Even after the sun sets, eating in Old Delhi during the summer months can be hot and sweaty. Fasting diners must strike a fine balance – between the desire to gorge themselves following a day of restraint and the knowledge that overeating during the fierce heat is not advisable.
It is perhaps best – and most refreshing - that visitors should try to visit the different vendors and sample multiple snacks, drinks and sweets – moving through the crowds of people who have emerged after the evening prayer, and feeling the sense of cheer and expectation that ripples through the community during Ramadan.
Source : The National
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