Ramadan is a holy month deeply rooted in culture, faith, and history; it is much more than just a time of fasting and charity. As a result, people across the world hold colourful celebrations that have been handed down through the ages and are specific to their region. Several cultures observe the holy month similarly, with fasting, charity, and prayer. However, on a more cultural level, Egyptians celebrate with fanous, the mesaharaty, and drama marathons. Now we will share with you some other Ramadan traditions from around the globe that can be a fun conversation starter over Iftar!
1- Haq Al Laila in UAE
The ceremony of Haq Al Laila occurs on the 15th of Sha’ban, the month before Ramadan, and is often compared to the Western habit of trick-or-treating. Children around the Gulf region wear brightly coloured clothes on this day and go door-to-door singing traditional songs and collecting treats to fill their kharyta (tote bags)!
This event is vital to the Emirati people’s sense of self-identity and is widely celebrated throughout the United Arab Emirates. Although today’s society is sometimes considered increasingly alienated and independent, this holiday provides a nostalgic throwback to a more communal and familial way of life.
2- A Cleansing Ritual (Padusan) in Indonesia
On the night before Ramadan, Muslims all around Indonesia partake in various rites meant for purification. For example, the Javanese Muslims have a ritual called Padusan (which translates to “to bathe” in Javanese), where they immerse their entire bodies in natural springs to cleanse themselves.
In Javanese culture, cleansing is essential to preparing for the holy month because of the springs’ profound spiritual importance. Local elders and religious leaders would traditionally select and allocate precious water for Padusan, but many people today use the water in their homes, neighbourhood swimming pools, and local lakes and rivers to cleanse themselves.
3- Ottoman-Costumed Drummers in Turkey
via TRT World
Those in Turkey who prepare for Suhoor have been roused from sleep by the beating of a drum since the days of the Ottoman Empire! A custom like our own Mesaharty involves more than 2,000 drummers visiting door-to-door in Turkey throughout the holy month, bringing people together.
The drummers of Ramadan wear authentic Ottoman garb, complete with the trademark fez and waistcoat, and play their davuls (Turkish double-headed drums) in the streets in hopes of receiving tips or invitations to homes for Suhoor. Throughout the holy month, tips are typically collected twice, with donors hoping for good fortune after displaying their generosity.
4- Men Playing a Traditional Game (Mheibes) in Iraq
via Enterprise Press
After breaking fast, people of all ages in Iraq gather to play the traditional game of mheibes (rings) during Ramadan. The game of deceit, played primarily by men, consists of two teams ranging from 40 to 250 members taking turns to hide a single mihbes (ring).
The team leader starts by holding the ring covered by a blanket, followed by the rest of the group keeping their fists tightly clenched in their laps as the leader passes the ring to a group member. The tension builds as their opponents try to read body language to figure out who of the dozens of men is hiding the ring.