Ramadhan traditions around the world
The long-awaited holy month of Ramadan is here!
To our Muslim friends, we want to say Ramadan Mubarak 🙏
To celebrate Ramadan, we want to highlight some of the Ramadan traditions around the world!
So, prepare your luggage and let’s embark on an around the world tour! ✈️
But first, what is Ramadhan?
While most of you are probably familiar with Ramadhan, some of you might not know a lot about it, so we will mention a little bit about what Ramadhan is all about.
In the Islamic calendar, Ramadan is the ninth month of the year. During the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims all over the world fast for 29 or 30 days, from dawn to dusk. So, the fasting periods around the world are different!
When fasting, you are not allowed to eat or drink anything. But it’s not only that! You should also try to abstain from negative emotions and you should not cuss or hurt other people’s feelings.
So, Muslims all over the world use Ramadhan not only as a time for fasting but also to self-reflect and strengthen their relationship with their families and communities!
Now, let’s go to the fun part! What Ramadan traditions are there around the world?
1. Egypt – Fanous
When Ramadan comes around, Egyptians light Fanous – beautiful lanterns that symbolize unity and joy. Even though this custom is primarily cultural rather than religious in nature, it has become firmly associated with the holy month of Ramadhan and has taken on spiritual importance.
Although there are several versions of the origins of Fanous, one popular story dates to one night during the Fatimid dynasty, when Egyptians received Caliphate Al-Muizz li-Dn Allah when he arrived in Cairo on the first day of Ramadhan.
Military officers ordered villagers to hold candles in the dark streets, enclosing them in wooden frames to prevent them from blowing out, in order to provide an illuminated entrance for the Imam.
These wooden structures evolved into patterned lanterns over time, and they are currently displayed across the country, spreading light during the holy month.
2. Bosnia and Herzegovina – canon firing
The people of Bosnia and Herzegovina have a unique Ramadhan tradition in which they would fire a cannon before breaking fast. What makes it unique is that they do not use just any regular cannons!
The cannons that are used are hundreds of years old and are passed down from generation to generation. These cannons have been used during Ramadan throughout the centuries.
The locals like watching this custom while having a picnic and the thunder of the cannons are often met with cheers!
3. Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan – Chaand Raat
On the last eve of Ramadhan, known as Chaand Raat (moon night), streets across South Asia spring to life with festivities. It’s the night before Eid al Fitr. As per Ramadhan tradition, friends and family in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh celebrate Chaand Raat with the exchange of sweet delicacies.
Last-minute shopping and entertainment are two common reasons for people to venture out. In these countries, it is not uncommon to see girls and women swarming jewellery shops and makeshift henna stalls in order to purchase matching bangles and dye their hands with henna.
To this day, the application of henna is a long-standing Ramadan practice in South Asian countries such as India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. The local bazaars are brimming with Eid enthusiasm, which uplifts community spirits.
4. Iraq – Mheibes
Generations of Iraqis gather in the early hours of the night, after breaking fast, for a traditional game called Mheibes. This game, which is mostly played by males during Ramadhan, includes two groups of 40 to 250 participants who take turns concealing a Mheibes, or ring.
Mheibes, a game of deceit, begins with the team captain holding the ring, his hands shrouded in a blanket. The other members must sit with their fists clenched in their laps as the leader secretly passes the ring to one of the other participants. During a tense exchange, their opponents must use only body language to discern which of the hundreds of guys is hiding the ring.
Though the game’s actual beginnings are unknown, it has considerable cultural and historical significance. Decades earlier, the Iraq government would organize community-wide games, hosting hundreds of players and bringing citizens from all across the country together. Despite the fact that this state-sponsored game was discontinued after the war and was thought to be lost, Mheibes has made a comeback in recent years, as individual community members continue to carry on the tradition.
5. Indonesia – Ketupat
In Indonesia, Ramadhan is almost synonymous with a dish called Ketupat!
Ketupat is a rice cake packed inside a diamond-shaped container woven from palm leaves. By itself, Ketupat tastes quite bland, but it is often served with other dishes such as rendang and curry.
The tradition of consuming Ketupat as Ramadhan and Eid Al-Firt staple is thought to originate from the days of Sunan Kalijaga, one of the missionaries who spread Islam throughout Indonesia.
In the Javanese language expression, “ku” means admit and “pat” or “lepat” means mistake. So the literal meaning of Ketupat is to admit one’s mistakes. It goes well with the Eid-Al-Fitr tradition of asking each other’s forgiveness for one’s wrongdoings in the past.
Fun fact: Not only a staple for Muslim Indonesians, Ketupat is also a staple during the Balinese Hindu celebration of “Kuningan”. The Balinese Hindus would make Ketupat for offerings during this day.
Making the rice cake itself is easy, but making the diamond-shaped container requires a bit of skill! Are you up for the challenge?
Although different parts of the world have different traditions when it comes to celebrating Ramadhan, it is clear all of these traditions put a big emphasis on sharing, generosity, and togetherness.
Once again, we wish you a happy, blessed Ramadhan surrounded by friends and families!
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