CAIRO: Egyptians are preparing to celebrate Prophet Muhammad’s birthday — also known as El-Mawlid El-Nabawi.
Although the celebration will take place on Oct. 7, streets around the country are already filled with all kinds of festive sweets and candies. The price of a candy box ranges from 100 Egyptian pounds ($5) to 1900 Egyptian pounds, depending on the brand and quality.
Among the famous pieces of candy that takes over the streets of Egypt is the famous Mawlid doll or bride, which was made in the past with sugar and water.
The tradition has been handed down for generations, with dolls manufacturers moving from scattered sweet shops to homes.
“I started the project of manufacturing Mawlid brides with only 400 Egyptian pounds,” Rasha Abdel Hamid, 20, said.
“I graduated from the faculty of social work, but I love designing brides, especially Mawlid brides, and this is what made me start my project about four years ago. After I designed a bride it impressed all my acquaintances, and they asked me to make the same for them. So I bought raw materials and designed six brides, and from there the project began,” she added.
“I only work during the season of the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday, and the brides that I make vary between those veiled and those that do not suit all tastes. This year I designed 60 Mawlid brides … I hope to have a factory next year during the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday,” she said.
Bride prices vary depending on the region that they are sold in. In high-end areas of Cairo, they sell for about 150 Egyptian pounds, while in villages, they range from 5-25 Egyptian pounds.
Zainab Abdel-Dayem, 44, a housewife, carries out the same hobby as Hamid.
“Since my young age, I have had a love for drawing, making and decorating brides, and in the seasons of the Prophet’s birthday there is an increasing demand for such brides, increasing my profits,” she told Arab News.
“I buy plastic brides, fabric, sewing tools and wax pistols to create Mawlid brides.
“This year, I developed my craft by adding lights to the brides. Also, I made the brides spin and sing using small electronic systems,” Abdel-Dayem said.
In one of the workshops in the Al-Azhar area in the center of Cairo, Atta Shalaby sat playing his part in the manufacturing of the dolls.
“The doll creation goes through several stages, the first being the base of the bride, which is made in carton factories. Then we cut the fabric and define the shape of the dress. Then comes the installation of the bride’s body on the base,” he told Arab News.
Then the bride gets transported to skilled craftsmen who give final touches to the product and finally the bride gets wrapped,” Shalaby added.
“I have been working for a long time in the manufacturing of Mawlid dolls from sugar and water, but no one does that anymore. Mawlid dolls are now made of plastic. They are more profitable, but certainly less creative,” he said.