The Spirit of Ramadan
With its own unique spiritual flavour, enthusiasm, and excitement – its communal prayers and its Iftar and Suhoor meals to which friends and family are invited – Ramadan has always been a very special month, as it still is today. Ramadan is a month of celebration that is enthusiastically awaited and once declared is celebrated everywhere like a long awaited ceremony. During Ramadan Muslims spend a month in an atmosphere of spiritual union and unity and towards the end of this blessed month they experience the spiritual abundance of the Night of Destiny ‘Lailatul-Qadr‘ and together enjoy the festivities and peace of ‘Eid al-Fitr‘ that follows.
These festivities and celebrations have all contributed to what is commonly known as the Spirit of Ramadan. People tell you that Ramadan has a special flavour, that it is a month when everyone is happy and communities are gathered together in festivity. Every country has it’s own Ramadan activities, traditions and even its own unique Ramadan Spirit. From stocking the pantry, to last minute shopping for fresh ingredients, to the lit balconies and the smell of food travelling through the streets right before sunset as each house is plating their Iftar… followed by after Iftar fireworks, and street performances of Sufi dancers, drummers and games… These are all the cultural traditions to celebrate the Holy Month.
Did it go missing?
Lately, it has become very common to hear everyone say that they miss the Ramadan Spirit. Many will tell you Ramadan used to be more fun, or in this city or that country you no longer feel the Spirit of Ramadan. I for one, feel that Ramadan has missed much of its unique flavour. I have given this some thought and have come to realise that the spirit of Ramadan did somehow go missing in the past few years! Not that Ramadan does not have a spirit anymore, but it is becoming more and more like any other month besides the fasting and the lavish Buffets at Hotels. So I went looking for what it is that is missing and found out that many of the traditions that gave Ramadan its unique “spirit” are no longer practiced these days! Traditions like the Hakawati (the storyteller), Musaharati (the person calling out for Suhoor), Sufi dancers, Suhoor with the family, community based activities and communal projects…etc. have all slowly diminished taking away the spirit with them.
Ramadan Culture, The Colours of Ramadan
Consequently, I decided to focus this year on the Ramadan Culture, the Colours of Ramadan these traditions that give this very special month its spirit. The stories, activities and traditions we experienced during our childhood in Ramadan that made us look forward to celebrating this month. Not only those I knew myself, but the ones I just recently got to know about through you. Thank you so much for those who connected with me, sharing their Ramadan stories, memories and traditions. I am now working on my Ramadan posts, in which I am exploring Ramadan around the world and each country’s Ramadan traditions and food + some extra features and delicious recipes. It is not too late if you want to share a story, a memory or tradition with me, please do and I will include it in this year’s Ramadan Special.
To understand Ramadan Traditions and the changes to daily routine that take place during the Holy month, one must look into the lives of those who observe instead of consulting with the “Brand Ramadan” that was created to promote businesses. You will be amazed that actual people’s practice has nothing to do with the marketing. Read my daily Ramadan posts and learn the real traditions and reasons behind the change, along with the many scrumptious recipes.
Let’s not Reduce Ramadan to just food and TV
These days it seems that Ramadan is a month of laying in front of the TV all day long, and eating all evening! It was never meant to be this way. While resting is essential during Ramadan, it is still a month of doing. Doing good, helping the community, learning and expanding horizons, and working on the ‘self’ are all part of what the Holy month is about. So by all means, rest, watch TV and eat but also “DO” this Ramadan.
My Ramadan Special 2013 will start on the 8th of July and will be updated with daily posts for a total of 30 days. I look forward to hearing your feedback throughout 🙂