Ramadan is a month that unites every Muslim on earth, and while we all fast during daylight hours – from Fajer till sunset- and focus on our faith, yet each country has its own unique culture and distinct traditions for celebrating Ramadan in different ways.
Here, we discuss how Ramadan is observed in countries around the world.
This first tradition can be described as the Emirati version of trick or treat is “Haq Al-Laila”.It is observed on the 14th night of the lunar calendar month of Sha’ban, 15 days before Ramadan begins. On the day itself, children dress in traditional bright colored clothes, and go door to door, chanting “Give us and Allah will reward you and help you visit the House of Allah in Makkah”, a traditional song linked to the day and collecting sweets and nuts from their neighbors. This tradition is especially important as it brings the Emirati culture even closer to the children and spreads the spirit of love, family, and community throughout the UAE.
“Qarqia’an” in Kuwait is very similar to “Haq Al-Laila”, however, this one is usually celebrated in the middle of Ramadan, for three days, and the kids wear traditional clothing. This celebration goes on for three days, Instilling the importance of Ramadan into young minds. The children learn about fasting during this joyous Ramadan practice and the ones who fast are rewarded with sweets.
Nyekar — the circle of life – is the act of paying respects to forefathers and departed family members before Ramadan begins. This ritual is based on the belief of the Javanese Muslims that Ramadan marks the end of one life cycle and the beginning of another.
This ritual takes place around a week before Ramadan, where Javanese believe they must first pay their respects to their forefathers by visiting the graves of dead relatives to decorate them with flowers and pray.
With families crowding cemeteries across the island, during their graveside prayers, Javanese Muslims pray for many things such as good fortune or good health if they are ill.
Many of the Ramadan symbols as we know them have originated in Egypt including the Ramadan lanterns, the pre-dawn caller, and the iftar cannon. Here we discuss 2 of the traditions that remain to be most prominent in Egypt.
Fanoos: The tradition of lighting of lanterns is believed to have been used to light the path of Caliph Moezz Eddin Allah in Cairo in the year 969 AD. People lighted the path along his journey across the city, to the Mokattam mountain for Ramadan’s moon sighting. The lantern has become symbolic of Ramadan. Made of metal and glass, these lanterns come in various shapes and sizes. To this day, when Egypt’s’ side alley souks and shops fill up with colorful fawanees (lanterns).
Mesaharaty: The ‘Mesaharaty’ or pre-dawn caller is originally from Egypt. They walk around the village streets beating soft drums and calling out to mark the time to wake up for suhoor. In countries like Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Jordan. They demand no payment, but people usually treat these tireless workers with gifts at the end of Ramadan.
As the sighting of the new moon marks the end of Ramadan and the start of Eid Al-Fitr, so begin the Chaand Raat festivities in Pakistan. At the celebration, the neighborhood comes together to shop, eat, and welcome the month of Shawwal, the first day of which is Eid. One of the highlights of this celebration is a small scale fair that is set up either within the neighborhood or fairgrounds which offer clothing, jewelry, henna tattooing, fashion items, games for all as well as arts and crafts. Muslim women are also interested in getting matching bangles with their dresses and to get Hina too. Hina for women-on hands with various patterns, designs, and even colors – is the most important part of the Chaand Raat.