Jeddawis cherish new and old Ramadan traditions

Updated 25 July 2012

Jeddawis cherish new and old Ramadan traditions

Jeddah is one of the busiest cities in the Kingdom and the hustle and bustle of the city is even more evident during the month of Ramadan. Muslims gather from all over the world in Jeddah to experience the true nature of Ramadan. Most of the residents and visitors stay in the city to participate in the various festivals and activities held here and then head to Makkah and Madinah to grab some moments of spirituality.
Supermarkets and hypermarkets turn into battlegrounds, as people try to buy necessary supplies and grocery items to prepare traditional iftar meals. “We buy everything from canned food, juices, dates and yogurt to fresh bread, vegetables and fruits,” said stay-at-home mother Iman Khaleel. “We usually prepare a feast because we expect family members to gather for iftar everyday,” she added.
Jeddah’s youth considers Ramadan as an opportunity to give back to society; volunteers pack iftar boxes to give away to the less fortunate across Jeddah. “It is not about distributing food to deserving individuals, it is about connecting with all types of individuals making up our society, joining our efforts and working as one family with the aim of improving our society, one meal at a time,” said volunteer Mohammad Al-Bakri.
“It seems that the poverty situation in the south and east of Jeddah has reached a critical level. We can’t pretend that we don’t see it anymore. We can’t say there’s nothing we can do, because there is plenty we can do,” said another volunteer Ali Al-Banawi.
The Taraweeh prayer after Isha is one of the key highlights of Ramadan when Muslims gather in large numbers in mosques around the Kingdom to perform this special prayer. “Taraweeh is not mandatory for everyone; we just like to go to be able to read the Qur'an with the imam with the aim of reading the whole Qur'an by the end of the month,” said college student Lama Al-Ansari. “Many mosques in Jeddah have arrangements for Taraweeh and some people even travel from one part of the city to another just to find the perfect imam who has the best recitation and performs the best supplication," she added.
“When Ramadan is over, the one thing we miss the most is the Taraweeh prayer because it is not only a prayer but also a social gathering,” said Al-Ansari.
Jeddawi fashion lovers for once leave their fashionable branded clothing and instead opt for traditional thobes to get into the feel of Ramadan. “One of the best things about Ramadan is the clothing. Many women are on the hunt to find the best thobes to wear to family gatherings. We don’t usually wear thobes through out the year but we always make sure that we wear them during Ramadan so as to uphold its traditional aspect,” said graphic designer Aseel Jazzar. “You will always find women hopping from one local fashion designer to another before and during Ramadan to get the perfect thobe to wear in the next social gathering," she said.
Since Ramadan is coinciding with summer vacation, many parents are on the lookout for the best entertainment options for the children and the whole family. “Thankfully shopping centers in Jeddah offer something for everyone. Parents can shop while the children play in the kids' area,” said Umm Majed, a mother of three. “Summer in Jeddah is the best time to hit the mall because there will always be some festive event that can be enjoyed by the whole family,” she added.
The summer heat can be stressful to women, especially those who work or leave the house when the sun is at its peak. One of the best things to do after a long day of work is to hit the spa for a relaxing day. “Jeddah's spas are the best places to be when you are tired or stressed out. Thankfully many spas make special offers during summer to help women get over the heat,” said banker Sanaa Zubaidi. “There are many treatments that include chemical-free products and that is what I always choose for the summer. Jeddah spas are like a mixture of the east and the west when it comes to treatments During Ramadan, I always opt for massages, get my nails and hair done and leave the spa totally relaxed and satisfied,” she added.
Many ancient Ramadan traditions have faded with time. The Mesaharati and Ramadan cannon are two of the most missed practices of the bygone days. Mesaharati is a 30-day job created especially for Ramadan that requires a man with a special drum to go around his neighborhood early in the morning to wake up people for suhoor (starting of the fast meal) before the Fajr prayer, signifying the start of the day’s fast.
“The Mesaharati’s role has started to fade ever since technology started to enter people’s homes in Saudi Arabia,” said Ibraheem Hashim, an 86-year-old citizen.
“People started depending on the radio, TV and alarm clocks to know when it was time for suhoor. In the past, people used to sleep all night knowing that the Mesaharati would for sure wake them up,” he added.
Traditionally Ramadan cannons were placed at the highest point of the city so that all Muslims would be able to hear the shot as a sign for breaking the fast. “It’s sad that this tradition is fading now. I moved to Jeddah and I remember that 10 years ago there was a cannon in Sultan Street, I used to take my grandchildren to let them see the cannon before iftar,” said Hashim. “The cannon was sadly removed and we have to watch the one on TV. Minutes before iftar we switch to the Saudi channel to see the cannon in Makkah,” he added. Makkah is the only place in the Kingdom that has retained this tradition until today.
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Email: rima.almukhtar@arabnews.com


What We Are Reading Today: Trigonometric delights by Eli Maor

Updated 10 April 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Trigonometric delights by Eli Maor

Trigonometry has a reputation as a dry, difficult branch of mathematics, a glorified form of geometry complicated by tedious computation. 

In Trigonometric Delights, Eli Maor dispels this view. Rejecting the usual descriptions of sine, cosine, and their trigonometric relatives, he brings the subject to life in a compelling blend of history, biography, and mathematics. 

From the proto-trigonometry of the Egyptian pyramid builders and the first true trigonometry developed by Greek astronomers, to the epicycles and hypocycles of the toy Spirograph, Maor presents 

both a survey of the main elements of trigonometry and a unique account of its vital contribution to science and social growth. 

A tapestry of stories, curiosities, insights, and illustrations, Trigonometric Delights irrevocably changes how we see this essential mathematical discipline.