Muslim countries and their people from all over the world will celebrate the beginning of the Holy Month of Ramadan. According to experts, Ramadan, as its dates change every year (based on moon sightings) usually happen in in mid May to June. There are certain rules and customs to be observed in Muslim countries such as Kuwait, especially during the holy month of Ramadan.
Ramadan is considered one of the most important (if not the most important) celebrations in the Islamic calendar that is observed by practicing Muslims all over the world because it commemorates the month when the Q’uran ha been made known to the prophet Muhammad by Allah. Ramadan is observed by Muslims through participating in the ritual of abstinence and fasting for 30 days. However, Ramadan in Kuwait is celebrated through certain distinct customs and traditions which reflect the colourful past of the Kuwaiti people. Read on to know more about them…
An Expat’s Guide on Ramadan in Kuwait 2018
Aside from fasting and abstinence, the Kuwaiti people take pride in commemorating this month-long celebration by wearing beautiful traditional costumes and preparing special dishes at times when they are allowed to eat. While most traditional practices have been set aside or have been modified to become more commercially-favoured by families, particularly housewives and children, some people still hold on to the customs which preserve the tradition and identity of the people of the State of Kuwait.
While most of the traditional activities in Kuwait during Ramadan are no longer observed by the newer generations, it’s still good to have some working knowledge as to how the people have celebrated this important time back in the day.
One of the events which the people of Kuwait no longer adhere to is the day of Al-Kareesh. This was the designated last day before the start of Ramadan. This would also mean the last day for families to meet for lunch before they begin their fasting. During this time, the sound of the cannon would signal the breaking of the fast. Families would then prepare a sumptuous lunch which is to be shared by all family members gathered around it to usher the beginning of Ramadan.
Ramadan Observances in the Past
As elsewhere in the Muslim world, Kuwaitis fasted in the day and offered their prayers at night during Ramadan. The people would recite the Q’uran and keep count of the number of times they have completed it within the month. At night, the people would religiously pray the At-Taraaweeh (voluntary night-time prayers). To this day, some Kuwaitis would show their generosity by spending a large amount of money on charity by providing Iftaar (evening) meals in the Masjids (place of worship) for the less fortunate.
During Ramadan, the markets would be filled with people at night since the shops would open after prayer. This is the time for many people to visit their relatives and/or friends.
The Cannon (Al-Waaridah)
Each day, the children would await for the firing of the cannon which symbolizes the Al-Waaridah (breaking of the fast at sunset). The children would do this by gathering ‘round the cannon before it is fired, and after it has been fired, they would all be seen happily cheering and revelling it joy.
The Man of the Drum (Abu Tabeelah)
The Abu Tabeelah is the designated person who would rouse the people late in the night for them to have their Suhoor (the meal taken before the break of dawn). The Abu Tabeelah would go around the neighbourhood, telling people: “[There is] No god but Allah, and Muhammad is his messenger” to prompt the entire household to wake up and to have their Suhoor at the designated time in the night. For this act, the people would provide him meals such as At-Tashreeb and Al-Harees up until the last day of Ramadan. To bid the end of Ramadan, he would be heard proclaiming: “Farewell, farewell Ramadan, farewell the month of fasting!”
Dishes and Meals During Ramadan
Several dish recipes have been preserved through the years, and passed on from generation to generation, particularly, the Al-Harees which has become a staple dish in Kuwaiti households. The Al-Harees, which is composed of mashed wheat and meat, is served with a mixture of clarified butter and sugar with ground cinnamon. Another popular dish prepared in Kuwait especially during Ramadan back in the day is At-Tashreeb, a kind of yeast bread cut in small portions and is served with gravy mixed with potatoes, gourd, and dry lemons from Oman. This is a common household dish as it can be easily prepared, digested, and is easy on the palate. And finally, another popular Ramadan dish is the Al-Jareesh which is also made from wheat.
Also, there were special sweets prepared in Kuwait during Ramadan. The most popular of these was the Luqmat Al-Qaadi a dessert made of cardamom, butter, saffron, milk, and fermented dough, sliced in tiny bite-size balls and are fried in boiling fat oil until reddened, after which they are dipped in molasses or sugar syrup. What makes Kuwaiti sweets during Ramadan stand out is their sweet taste and enticing aroma snce most of them are made of delicious and aromatic spices such as saffron, cardamom, and ground cinnamon.
The Al-Qadr (the Night of Decree)
The night of Al-Qadr, as with the rest of the Muslim countries in the world, is received with great reverence and expectations. Thousands of Muslims gather in Masjids to pray and to proclaim Allah’s name and to raise their petitions to cast away worries and grief, and to protect the country from all kinds of evil. Kuwaitis prepare for the twenty-seventh night of the Ramadan for the sole purpose of gathering in Masjids throughout the country to worship Allah.
The Grand Mosque
Known as the largest mosque in all of Kuwait, spanning a total of 45,000 sq.m., the Grand Mosque is expected to receive around 180,000 devotees during the last ten nights of Ramadan to recite the Taraaweeh prayers.