Marhaba, my name is Yasmin and I am the Arabic tutor at VLLC Melbourne. After five years of celebrating Ramadan on my own in Australia, I was so excited to spend it this year with my family in Egypt.
Every year millions of Muslims around the world refrain from eating and drinking from dawn to sunset during the month of Ramadan. Fasting brings Muslims closer to God and reminds them of those who are less fortunate. It makes us very grateful for what we do have. By refraining from the worldly desires such as food and drink, Muslims develop and strengthen their powers of self-control and self-restraint so that they can then apply it to their everyday life to bring about self-improvement.
Although Ramadan may seem to be a hard and difficult month, it is, in fact, a very enjoyable time. Families come together and enjoy the delicious food for the breaking the fast and the pre-dawn meals. The shared experience of not eating or drinking all day unites Muslims both as a family and community in the Mosques where Muslims gather together to break their fast with other people also observing the fast that day.
Celebrating Ramadan in Egypt is a very special and unique event. Egypt has one of the oldest and richest Ramadan heritage in the whole Arab world, ranging from lights to cannons to night callers. Egyptians welcome Ramadan with the Fanoos or Ramadan lanterns. They decorate their homes with the colourful lanterns and children swing with their new glowing lanterns while singing Ramadan songs. Using the Fanoos as decorations is believed to have originated during the Fatimid Caliphate. Egyptians welcomed the arrival of Caliph Moezz Eddin Allah to Cairo in 969 during the month of Ramadan by lighting hundreds of lanterns.
Another interesting tradition of Ramadan in Egypt is the firing of the cannon. The firing of the cannon marks sunrise and sunset therefore signalling the time for beginning and ending the fast. This tradition started during the time of Khedive Mohamed Ali (1805-1848) when he ordered a number of cannons for the Egyptian army, and so it happened that one cannon was accidentally fired during sunset in Ramadan and people then thought that this was a new tradition ordered by the Khedive.
Finally, one of Ramadan’s special traditions is the Mesarahaty or drummer. Each morning during the month of Ramadan, an hour or two before dawn, drummers tour the streets, hammering out a repetitive beat to wake people up to have their pre-dawn meal. This tradition dates back to the Ottoman era when people didn’t have alarm clocks to wake them for their pre-dawn meals, drummers would walk through the streets beating their drums.
If you are planning to visit Egypt in future make sure you come during the month of Ramadan so you can enjoy the special atmosphere it has in the country.
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