Ramadan is a month of retrospection and spiritual value. Muslims across the world pay attention to prayers, fasting, having suhoor and iftar with their loved ones, and increasing charity. Today, we are going to share some of the Ramadan traditions across the world.
The dhol wallahs come to wake people for suhoor. These are human alarm clocks to be precise when the technology wasn’t so advanced. This is an ancient tradition that is still practiced in many cultures.
Their sehri includes “lavasa” (a lighter version of bread), “gheyv czhot” (soft yet solid bread prepared with ghee), “shirmal” (flat milk bread sprinkled with poppy seeds), “katlam” (a flaky and deep-fried bread), “tchvoar” (a crispy bread sprinkled with sesame seeds), “kulcha” (a crispy and round-shaped bread sprinkled with poppy seeds) “bakirkhani” (ghee-soaked puff pastry) and a salty tea called “noon chai”.
They break the fasts with dates and a drink “babribeoul treish” which is made from basil seeds immersed in water mixed with sugar and some milk. It has significant health benefits like reducing stress, curing gastrointestinal issues, and relieving constipation. Loaded with calcium, protein, iron, magnesium, potassium, vitamins, and some fiber, it has a cooling effect and keeps one’s body hydrated for hours, especially in summers. Besides this, phirni, custard, fruit chats, rice, mutton curries, yogurt, salad, and pickles are also eaten post iftar.
The children dress up in traditional clothes collecting sweets and nuts in their bags known as Khartya. They sing traditional songs and chant Aatona Allah Yutikom, Bait Makkah Yudikum, which means ‘Give to us and Allah will reward you and help you visit the House of Allah in Mecca’. This is an integral part of the tradition and has been carried on since the old times.
In Ramadan, people enjoy dishes like Lamb thereed, Lamb kofta, Khabeesa, Aishu laham, Jallab, Chicken fouga, Aseeda bobar, and Harees, etc.
A Nafar roams around in the Morrocan neighborhood, wearing donning the traditional attire of a gandora, slippers and a hat. He wakes the people for sahoor just like dhol wallahs. This tradition dates back to Prophet PBUH times when a companion roamed the streets to wake people. They are compensated on the last day of Ramadan or on Eid to show gratitude towards them.
They do iftar with the traditional harira. It is a brown soup made of lentils, chickpeas, rice, and meat stock.
Egyptians welcome Ramadan by lighting colorful lanterns known as fanous. This shows unity and joy. This tradition date back to the Fatimid dynasty, when Egyptians greeted and welcome Caliph Al-Muʿizz li-Dīn Allah during Ramadan in Cairo. The wooden frames were used to hold the candles, which took the shape of the lanterns in modern times.
In Egypt, Qatayif is an integral part of iftar meals. They are like dumplings with filling of cheese, nuts, raisins, or sweetmeat as per the choice.
They also have their Dhol wallahs, dressed in traditional Ottoman costumes, which include a fez and vest adorned with traditional motifs. Locals give them tips or bahsis twice a month as a gesture of generosity.
Ramadan Pidesi is a flatbread commonly made with yeast or wheat flour and then shaped by hand. It is always topped with sesame seeds and can have a filling of meat or vegetables.
The Iraqi people sit for a game of mheibes after iftar. There are two groups comprising 40-250 players. They take turns to find the mihbes (ring). The leader passes the ring secretly and the opponents have to guess who has the ring.
In Ramadan, they consume dry food such as rice, sugar, flour, oil, sha’riyya (vermicelli noodles), as well as nuts, legumes, and spices such as baharat (a special Iraqi cuisine spice blend). Besides it, they also eat Noomi Basra (dried Lime) and dried fruits such as raisins, prunes, and apricot known asturshana.
The Roma Muslim Community in Albania chants traditional ballads at iftar and suhoor. This tradition dates back to the Ottoman Times. They march the streets playing a lodra (a homemade, double-ended cylinder drum covered in sheep or goatskin). Muslim families invite them to iftar to play the traditional ballads.
There is a variety of cuisine which include Byrek, a flat flaky pastry pie eaten hot or cold, containing meat, spinach, or curds; Pastice, pasta with milk, cheese, egg, and butter sauce; Pettulla, fried dough with sweet or savory filling such as jam, cream sauces or cheese; or Imam Bayudin, an aubergine dish with garlic.
During Ramadan, cannons are fired daily for iftar. This tradition dates back to Egypt 200 years back under the Ottoman ruler Khosh Qadam. They misfired a canon at sunset while testing, which became a tradition later on.
The Ramadan dishes include Cream of Asparagus Soup (Crème d’asperges), Tiss’ye, Fattoush, Baba Ghanouj, Hummus, Baked Kibbeh, Lebanese Style Stuffed Eggplant, Qatayef, and Semolina Pistachio Layer Cake (Bohsalini).
Before Ramadan, the Indonesians have a purifying tradition ‘padusan’ (to bathe in Javanese). They bathe in springs to cleanse themselves. This has a spiritual aspect and integral part of the culture. The traditions go back to the early missionaries who came to spread Islam in this region.
Kolak is a dessert that is made from coconut sugar, coconut milk, and the native pandanus leaf. Fruits and vegetables including bananas, sweet potatoes, jackfruit, plantain, cassava, or even pumpkin can be added to make it more filling. Indonesians like to break their fast with it as they believe it gives them an immediate boost of energy after a long day of fasting.
They light up and decorate the shops and marketplaces to celebrate Ramadan. They have special dishes at iftar like jilapi (sweet snack), piazu (onion-based dish), beguni (brinjal made) to share with friends and family.
It gives us the joy to share the traditions across the world, which are part of their culture and have a history.