The Wayfarer (mnfaure) wrote,
The Wayfarer

Ramadan begins

Yesterday was the first day of Ramadan here in Egypt. It was interesting seeing the differences between the customs that have sprung up around it here in Egypt and in Mayotte, whose population is 99% Muslim even though it is a French overseas department.

The day began calmly enough, more like a Friday than a regular weekday (Friday is the day of worship here and the start of the weekend), and things got calmer and calmer as the day went on. We went for a swim at the health club and the road there was practically empty of traffic, something I've never seen, even at 3 a.m. on the way home from the airport. When we came out of the club, the parking lot was almost empty and the sun was just setting. Some young men had put traffic cones across two of the three lanes, forcing all cars to pass in front of them, so that they could sell the drivers and passengers drinks in plastic cups. Maybe some kind of cola or juice.  We passed another set of drink sellers, these laden with trays of electric orange beverages. In front of apartment buildings, children, teens, and even adults were setting off black-cats and similar firecrackers.  Garlands of lights, reminiscent of Christmas decorations, some of them sporting stars and crescent moons decked the front of buildings and trees. Great lanterns, like those below, sold especially for Ramadan hang from entrances like bejeweled pendants. Note the size of the ones on the ground compared to the lady and her children:

ramadan lanterns

"Lights! Lights," shouted S. "More lights!"  She was pointing everywhere, with a flourish no less, like casting spells with a magic wand. She even found magic in street lamps and the outdoor light of shops that were closed for the evening...another first.

On a wide, landscaped median two trestle tables were set up, seating about 40 men and boys, who were feasting together. Bunting hung in the hot still air, lights twinkled, laughter and firecrackers were all the more audible because of the lighter traffic.  Carts of prickly pear fruits for sell stood unmanned, the sellers off breaking their fast.

We parked in front of our building and S was able to run across the intersection by herself. "Look, no cars!"

The prayers may have sounded a bit longer through the megaphones, but we have yet to hear children screaming "Amin!" at the top of their lungs for 30 minutes straight like we did in Mayotte.
Tags: egypt, life in egypt
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