Tuesday, July 31, 2012

When the cannon goes off!

Nights become days and days become nights in the holy month of Ramadan. It has been years since I have been in Qatar (or the middle east) for a Ramadan but things have not really changed. Yes, the grocery store might be open for longer hours during the day but the attitude of "inshallah tomorrow"increases immensely and the shorter work days are still around.

My Dad has already bought home 3 boxes of dates this Ramadan. In the evening dates are eaten first during Iftar (the time/meal in which they are breaking fast). These dates are from the date palms at the farm. My Dad keeps on going on and on about how good they are but personally I hate them. It is horrible when I am given one and it would be rude to refuse because acting like I like something is not a talent I am good at. 
When we were younger we lived within walking distance of the post office on the corniche. At the post office there was a cannon located there. I don't know why but at least once during the month, and by suggestion of my father, we would go and watch the cannon go off. It is the way to signal that the day is over and it is time to break their fast. 

When I was 15 (maybe even when I was still 14;), and mad I wasn't learning to drive like a normal kid in America, my Dad decided that I would be able to driving from the farm to the round about on the edge of Doha. When the cannon first goes off the roads are so peaceful. Everyone is praying and eating. There might be one speedy person who flies past you because they are late but other than that it was a perfect time to learn how to drive in the Ford Expedition my Dad used to drive. The other day I was driving home on the peaceful roads remembering how funny those times driving with my Dad were. He isn't exactly the best teacher in the world because he gets too nervous and is a horrible "back seat driver." Since I have moved back he still is a horrible passenger. I get a lot of "they are breaking" or "slow down" and sometimes even "there is someone on your left" - not like I have been driving for 7 years or anything?

Ramadan is an interesting month. Not a lot happens but at the same time there is a lot happening just not for none muslims. My students tell me that it is such a busy time for them. They have duties to attend to, meals to eat with certain people, and it is a time for reflection as well as prayer. It is a very spiritual month. Sometimes I don't understand it but after a conversation with someone the other day I see that everyone celebrates it differently and it is all about personal belief. Some have huge meals at the end of the day while others are more traditional and break their fast with soup and have a light meal.  Some pray more than others do but in the end I don't think that anyone should judge this month from the outside unless they have done it (and believe it).

After Ramadan there are two Eid celebrations. One that follows immediately, Eid al-Fitr, and then another one about a month later, Eid al-Adha. From what I know, the first one is more celebrating personally and is called by some as "The Feast Breaking the Fast." A lot of presents, food, and money is given during this Eid. Eid al-Adha or "The Feast of the Sacfice" is a time for charity. Money is given to the poor as well as food (mainly lamb) and people often give to their neighbors. Of course durning both Eids there are different prayers (or more) as well as the celebrations they do not forget that it is still a very holy time.

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