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Qatari Customs and Traditions during the Month of Ramadan

The act of fasting in Ramadan is the same for Muslims all over the world, but certain customs and traditions differ from country to country, each culture has its own way of greeting friends and family to mark the start of the holy month. In Qatar, we say: ‘Mubarak alekoum el shahar’.

The month of Ramadan in Qatar has a special taste, Qataris are keen to revive traditions and customs inherited from distant times, but customs and traditions of food and drink remain the most prominent of the various rituals practiced in this holy month.

Al Nafla

Ramadan traditions and customs begin from the month of Sha’ban in the State of Qatar, in preparation for the holy month of Ramadan, where the celebration on the 14th day of Sha’ban (Hijri calendar) Al Nafla is celebrated. Al Nafla is based on the act of giving and sharing, families gather to prepare traditional food; mothers arrange delicious welcoming platters while children watch on. The food is distributed among their neighbors’ and to the poor. While cooking for Naflah, food and ingredient staples are also prepared for the month of Ramadan, and people are reminded of the rewards and blessings associated with the coming month.

The Qatari Ramadan Table

Dates and yogurt

At a time when the spiritual feel in Qatar is almost identical to the rest of the Gulf region, Qatari dishes throughout the month of Ramadan differ to the rest of the Muslim world with tables comprising of various dishes going back decades, where successive Qatari generations have continued to preserve most of them until the present day. Despite renewed and unique Ramadan platters seen during the holy month, Qataris are always keen on Ramadan customs and traditions, always breaking fasting with dates and yogurt.

Al Harees

"Harees" is one of the most important dishes and a main dish rarely left out, offered in the month of Ramadan, considered one of the well-known Ramadan dishes during this month, forming a major and essential dish throughout, made of mashed wheat with meat, margarine and crushed cinnamon.

Al Thareed

Iftar platters are never relinquished of the “Thareed” dish, made with bread or tortillas cut in small pieces, soaked in a meat broth which contains mostly vegetables, such as potatoes, pumpkins and eggplant.

The base of the Thareed is Al Tannour bread, but at present tortilla bread is commonly used, which is a thin bread prepared by Al Tawwa, a thick sheet of iron, which is almost circular, where woman spread a thin layer of dough over it after being well heated, whilst occasionally wiping the Tawah with a light layer of fat beforehand, so that the dough does not stick and the demand for the bread increases during the month of Ramadan.

Al Luqaima

Luqaimat is a sweet served in the month of Ramadan, made of milk, cardamom, margarine, saffron and brewed dough, cut into pieces and cooked in boiling fat until the dough becomes browned, where the sweet is then placed in a sugary syrup or molasses.

Ramadan Gathering (Ghabqa)

It is known in the State of Qatar that the month of Ramadan is the month of "Ghabaqat" and that the Ghabqa is the name of a midnight banquet, which presently differs compared to the past, different in its nature, the food served and varies in all aspects apart from the name.

The purpose of the Ghabqa is the gatherings, as the younger generation, the men and the women all have their own groups, the banquet named as Al Ghabqa does not involve strangers or those distant, but is for the people of the neighborhood and the catchment area, where they gather and form agreements, not governed by laws and not limited by protocol, hosted every day or every two days by one of the group, bringing together their similarities and affection for each other around one dish, remembering common memories, where the women also gather to discuss, stay up late and to recap memories from childhood, teenage life and as responsible adults, as they are from the same area and have resemblances in all aspects.

Al Ghabqa is a return to customs and dishes common throughout the year, apart from rice. As the holy month of Ramadan has its iconic dishes, such as the Thareed, a substitute for rice, and Al Harees. Fish is hardly served and is replaced by meats, which is frequently available an in large quantities, which forms the reason for Ghabqa.

Al Ghabqa previously consisted of brownish bread, which is bread cooked with sugar or molasses, which is the essence of dates or date honey, in addition to grilled, fried or cooked fish. Some people also prefer traditional dishes in Al Ghabqa, not served during Iftar and common throughout the year, which may be missed during the holy month. Sweets including Luqaimat and porridge, including tea and coffee.

Ramadan Canon

Traditionally, the end of the fast at sunset would be marked by the firing of a canon, so that even those away from town would be able to hear the signal and know that it was time to break the fast. We still carry on this tradition ceremoniously today, and it's broadcast live on Qatar TV as an indication of the end of the day's fast.

Garangao

On the fourteenth day of the holy month, parents and children start preparing to celebrate Garangao, which is one of the most popular Ramadan customs in the Gulf society in general and Qatar in particular, to celebrate the completion of half a month and also to encourage children during the month of Ramadan to fast. In this occasion children buy sweets, and mothers sew bags of cloth, that children will use it to collect sweets or money, that will be distributed by parents. The children will hang the bag on their neck, the housewife after asking the children to repeat the song, especially the part that they praise her son, scoops with her hands or by a tray or “Juffair” full of nuts and sweets, and open the bag for every child of them and put its share. Meanwhile, the children scramble to reach the lady distributing, and compete to collect largest amount of candy.

The celebration continues until late at night, and the families gather in the houses waiting for the groups of children to come upon them, one after the other. When the people of the house hear the sound of the children singing from afar, they are ready to receive them by putting the juffair at the door of the house or in the courtyard. The people of the house get disappointed if the children's groups neglect their house and do not visit it and take their share of Al Garqa'an. This may happen if the house is away from the rest of the houses or what they offer to children from Al Garqa’an does not satisfy their tastes.

Ramadan Scouts (Mosahrati)

It is a very old habit still practiced in some of the old neighborhoods of Qatar, where the enchanter beats a drum or drum and sings the Islamic songs of Ramadan and roams around the houses as he gropes and dances for people to wake them up for suhoor, which is considered a blessing.

Charity in Ramadan

In Qatar, during the holy month of Ramadan, citizens and residents both hasten to give charity to the poor and needy people to get closer to Allah the Almighty. Thus, about 250,000 needy people gather around what Arabs call "the tables of Ar-Rahmaan", which the wealthy prepare for the poor throughout the country. Besides, when the time of Iftaar approaches, a variety of snacks are distributed among the fasting people who are unable to reach their homes in time to break their fast.



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