Preparing for Ramadan

by Darla on September 11, 2007

in Doha, Qatar

For the rest of the world it is a time to send your kids back to school and organize after school activities but for us it is a time of preparation.  We are preparing for the start of Ramadan.

The celebration consists of daily fasting from food and drink from sunup to sundown.  This is a good link to learn more.  About Ramadan

This is our second year in a Muslim country that celebrates Ramadan as a whole and in earnest.  We were woefully unprepared the first time.  Hopefully it will be better this time.

Ramadan will begin when Mecca sights the new moon.   How will you know Ramadan has begun?  That is the question.  Last year we didn’t have any idea.  Brian went to have the car fixed and had breakfast from the local grocery in the mall.  He got some ugly looks but didn’t understand.  When we went to lunch that day, the stores were closed that is when we figured it out.  Is there a better way?  Probably.

In the middle of the night we heard a cannon shot from the weaponry museum that is next door.  We think that was the announcement.  Whether they do that all over Qatar I have no idea.   Perhaps we will be better clued in this time around.

Preparations:  First stock your cupboards with all the necessities.  If you are low on it , stock up.  ALL Stores operate on a different schedule from normal.  Normal operating times are from 8 or 9 to 12 or 1 Siesta until 4pm and then reopen until 8 or so.  (This is for non mall stores)  Most malls operate from 9:30 to 10pm  Holiday hours are I DON’T KNOW I never figured it out.    I think it is 11 to 12 then break until 4pm then from 4pm until 3am the next morning.  Whatever the hours it is crazy.

All Restaurants and other public eating places are closed until Ifthaar which is sunset (about 5:30 pm)

DRIVING:  Normally it is just about anything goes as long as you don’t hit someone because it is too painful a process and no one wants to be there.  Think about the majority of the population fasting from drink or food in a hot desert climate and breaking their fast at about 6pm every evening.  Low blood sugar.  YOU DO NOT want to be on the roads at this time.

Driving during the day is fine, but come sunset everyone is focused on evening prayers and breaking their fast.

The evenings are spent with family, friends and neighbors in celebration.  Many go to the Corniche and have picnics at the park.  It is an awesome sight to see so many spending time with their family and knowing how important it is to them.

The concept of Ramadan is beautiful there are many that use the holiday in a way that is not in keeping with the original intent, I approach the day with less anguish then I did last year.  I feel like I am ready to realize the benefits that I receive from such a time.  An opportunity to change my ways (dining out, spending too much money, and remember those who do not have the luxury of eating everyday)  We spend more time together as a family and try our very best to be understanding and respectful of the culture that surrounds us.

There were opportunities to go to Ramadan tents at the local hotels where there is entertainment galore in the style of the local culture.  We were able to see a whirling dervish.  Whirling Dervish

If I am able I will put up a brief movie of this as you have to see it to believe it.  Fantastic.

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