Paint by Words

By Eman Bukhari

A word-journey into what makes a Shariqya Ramadan so special.

How does waiting to listen to the Maghrib adhan make that first sip of water taste a whole lot better than if you were just looking at the clock? Why do you always make special room for the dish your neighbor sends over for iftar, even though you don’t like their cooking? In Sharqiya, there’s an indescribable feeling that yearns for those annual traditions of the past during those 30 days.

Before Ramadan even begins, friends and family take part in greish, dinner gathering that welcomes the new month and symbolizes the last regular meal. The dishes served are leftovers or dishes not usually served during Ramadan.

Before Maghrib, volunteers flock the streets handing out iftar goody-bags or driving iftar delivery trucks to those in need. There is a visible passion among the people for charity work that is matched by a humbling reverence.

Mosques become the heart of communities, pumping energy among the men and women, the young and old, going to Taraweeh and Qiyam. Mosque competitions and programs range from Qur’an recitation to halagas where people sit together in a circle to discuss stories that inspire the soul.

In addition to the common iftar and suhoor meals, the citizens take part in ghabqa, a late evening social meal shared among friends. Its origin is ghaboq – the drinking of camel milk in the evening.

Today, these private gatherings are also where fashion statements are made. Traditional jalabiyas are fused with the latest modern styles, as living rooms turn into catwalks. The neighbor’s interior design also changes as traditional ornaments are incorporated to contemporary living rooms.

The gargayan jingle performed by children on your doorstep, asking for sweets with sacks around their necks, reminds you that you are halfway through the month. Some communities choose to mark the occasion indoors, giving away the goodies in creative packaging.

We all begin Ramadan with this tremendous feeling. It is the anticipation to be part of something big and the sensation of living the same days the Qur’an was revealed.

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