Ramzan is the holy month when Muslims worldwide fast during daylight hours and abstain from wrongdoings and contribute more to charity work and donations for the less fortunate. With the onset of Ramzan, Muslims feel charged up—ready to change their lifestyle.
At certain places, however, some cultural and political interventions make Ramzan a different experience. Here are 7 places around the globe where Ramzan brings with it some visible changes:
1. Saudi Arabia’s topsy-turvy routine
The sleep and work schedule of the residents of Saudi changes drastically. The programme is set in such a manner that people collectively observe fasts without any hindrance. Meetings or shopping is carried out in the night. The office hours are reduced and hence the work gets delayed.
However, the inmates believe there are more gains following the routine than the losses. There have been times when the Saudi government has talked about taking stringent steps like deporting a visitor if he is seen breaking the Ramzan rules.
2. The dawn drumming
In Kashmir, and many other parts of South Asia, what wakes one up for Sehri is not only the Alarm Clock or announcements in the Masajid, but also a man beating drums and screaming “Waqt e Sahaar” (Time for Sehri) on the streets, in the middle of the night. He is known as ‘Sahar Khan’. He consistently does the job for the month of Ramzan.
The concept of the pre-dawn caller originates from Egypt where he is known as Mesaharaty. Apart from Kashmir and Egypt, moreover, to this day, this tradition continues in many Gulf countries.
3. Lighting the ‘Fanous’
In Egypt’s Old Cairo region, Fanous or lanterns are lightened up in Ramzan. It’s believed that the tradition of lighting up of lanterns had been used to light the path of Caliph Moezz Eddin Allah in Cairo in the year 969 AD.
People reportedly lighted the path along his journey across the city, to the Mokattam mountain for Ramzan’s moon sighting.
4. Playing Al Siniya
In Kirkuk, Iraq, a folk game called ‘Al Siniya’, an Arabic term meaning tray, is often played during the month of Ramzan. Men would gather around to play this hours-long game after having iftar with friends and family.
The object of the game is for players to find the hidden dice under one of the several overturned copper cups on a tray.
5. Calling out Hag Al Laila
In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), events known as the Hag Al Laila are organized to educate the public about the month of Ramzan. It is said that the Children across the UAE walk the streets of their neighborhoods on Wednesday night, knock on their doors and call out ‘Atoona Hag Al Laila’, which means “give us sweets for tonight”.
It is celebrated in Qatar after breaking the fast on the night of 14th Ramzan. ‘Gara’ is a Khaliji word used for the sound that is created when two things are knocked together.
This tradition helps children to build-in the curiosity to learn about Ramzan. It’s a way to reward Muslim children who observe fast for the month.
7. Ramzan Ban in China
While Muslims fast as per the Islamic teachings globally, countries like China deprive them of this right. In 2014, the Chinese authorities imposed restrictions on Uighur Muslims during the month of Ramzan, banning government employees and school children from fasting, besides ordering the restaurants to stay open.
China bizarrely justifies the ban, saying, “it’s meant to protect the health of students … and to ensure the state does not support any particular faith.”
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