By Karima Rhanem
By Karima Rhanem
Morocco World News
Rabat, August 15, 2012
While millions of Moroccans devote most of their time for prayers and Quran recitation during Laylat Al-Qadr (the night of destiny when the angel Gabriel started the transmission of God’s message to the prophet Mohammad), many Moroccan families celebrate their kids first day of fasting.
Generally, children before puberty do not have to fast during Ramadan, although many do so to practice for half the day. But the night of the destiny is when most children like to fast. More specifically, girls, who fast for the first time, wear traditional clothes and go to negafa after f’tour. Negafa in Morocco is a woman who prepares the bride for the wedding. She has all sorts of traditional, local and international clothes and accessories to decorate the bride. Nowadays, many families tend to go to photo Labs who make specially programs with negafa to celebrate the first fast of their children and to express their happiness. Children are decorated like brides and pictures with horses are taken to remember those moments and everyone goes to continue night prayers.
Spending the holy month of Ramadan in Morocco is different from elsewhere. Other than the religious rituals practiced during this month, certain social habits in the Islamic world differ from one country to another. The practice of Ramadan in a Moroccan context is a very pleasant experience where you can discover typical traditions, tasty cuisine, and an enormous spirit of solidarity.
As Ramadan starts, the sound of the sirens can be heard throughout the city, though felt more in rural than urban areas. It also marks the end of the month, as well as each dawn and dusk, signifying fasting and eating. In celebration of Ramadan’s arrival, many Moroccan women, according to some regions or family traditions, put henna on their hands, and again a few days before it ends.
Each day, before sunset, hectic activity is displayed in preparing the food, setting the table for f’tour. In Morocco, iftar is divided into two separate distinct meals. Moroccan break their fast with dates and the famous Harira, a soup that contains chickpeas soaked overnight and then boiled , parsley, lentils, tomatoes, onion and flour. Harira is commonly eaten with Chebbakia, a pastry mixed with saffron and cinnamon then filled with almonds. It is one of the sweets exclusively prepared in Moroccan cuisine, very rich in calories and is supposed to give more energy after Iftar. Following the initial small meal, Moroccan green tea is served with “Sallo,” the main sweet, made with flour, almonds, a pinch of Arabic gum, sesame, cinnamon and orange blossom water. A break of two or three hours is taken to pray the sunset and night prayer, before the main meal is served. Yet, these traditions may vary from region and family to another.
During Ramadan, people visit or receive friends and relatives more often than usual, sharing the food with them. People like to walk in the streets, and the shops stay open all evening, allowing people to do their shopping for the following day.
Sports have their share as well. Most clubs arrange minor tournaments, especially for soccer. In poor districts where no clubs are available, the youth and children can utilize a side street or alley as a football field, as people become slightly tolerant during Ramadan.
The end of Ramadan is marked by Eid al fitre. Moroccan men wear jellaba (men traditional clothes) and children wear their brand new clothes and visit neighbors and relatives after the prayer. As for women they wear kaftan (women traditional dress) and wait for the guests to visit them at home after they have prepared dishes and sweets, special to this occasion.
Karima Rhanem is a Moroccan Communications and social media Specialist, researcher on Governance & Public Policy, former journalist and a social activist. She is currently president of the Moroccan Association for development and Parallel Diplomacy. She holds a BA in communications and Leadership studies, and preparing an MA in Governance and Public policies at Mohammed V University, Rabat.
© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved