Sunday, 28 August 2011

It's Ramadan!

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and the Muslim’s holy month where the Quran was bestowed upon Prophet Mohamed. It is a time of spiritual reflection and worship. Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset in a process intended to light one's path toward prayer and God.

Ramadan traditions vary from one country to another. For us Egyptians, the holy month of Ramadan is the most special occasion of the year.

Before Dawn, the Musaharati (dawn awakener) starts his job, walking the streets and alleys drumming on small drum, sometimes singing and sometimes shouting, he ensures everybody wakes up for Suhur (pre-dawn meal).

Ramadan is not the same with out Fanous (Ramadan lantern).

Every mosque, building, street, lane and alley connected by a cob web of colorful garlands and lights

This is the “Atayef” baker, almost like a tiny pancake. It’s usually stuffed with nuts and rasins and deep fried and then soaked in syrup.

And this is the “Kounafa” baker. “Kounafa” is a typical Ramadan sweet. Baked in the oven with cream or cinnamon and also soaked with syrup.

Ramadan is family time. A family in my beloved oasis is sitting together, waiting for the time to pass till Iftar, the breaking of the fast at sunset.

While the mother is cooking...

Before sunset all farmers go home with their animals at the same time.

Iftar cannon, a very distinguished symbol of Ramadan in Egypt. It was used during the Fatimid era to announce the end of the daily Ramadan fast. The tradition indeed survived until today and fasting Muslims await the loud “boom” that announces the end of the daily fast. Iftar in Egypt isn't just the same without the cannon blast.

Finally, Iftar! The whole country is eating now and…

Watching the same soap operas. Many soaps and comedies are especially produced for Ramadan.

In Ramadan people are generous. Many people are donating food; there are public Iftars for the poor.

But Ramadan is also a time to go out, meet friends, eat a lot at night, go to music concerts, smoke shisha (water pipe), drink tea and eat sweets. Khan Al Khalili, Cairo’s biggest bazaar area, is packed with people every night.

Even my desk is celebrating this joyful month of colors..

With a dear book, colors and a new work in progress that I shall tell you more about soon.

Most of the photographs are taken by the wonderful Claudia Wiens.


  1. I'm delighted to see this post from you! Thank you for sharing your tradition and wonderful pictures full of light and happiness:) The photos and narration are so beautifully done that I feel like part of the celebration.
    So wonderful to see the sharing and generosity of people. Thank you!
    I look forward to seeing new art from you.

  2. Thank you for sharing all of this! How awesome!