The Holy Month of Ramadan comes back as a visitor every year as we yearn to it. In Ramadan, our souls are assured, our hearts are healed and we compete in worship and good deeds. Every year, we miss the rituals of Ramadan and long for them because of the omens of mercy and forgiveness. In Ramadan, we stop drinking and eating from dawn to sunset, and we go for ‘i'tikaf’ in mosques seeking God’s mercy and forgiveness. In this month, we also strengthen ties with our families and enjoy internal peacefulness.
Ramadan in Qatar is no different from other Arab and Islamic countries, but there are Ramadan customs and traditions that the Qatari society has preserved since ancient times, including:
Ghabga is a meal eaten at midnight so that people get together over one feast. There are gatherings for young men, others for older men, with women having their own gatherings as well
In the past, Ghabga was not for strangers or those far from the neighborhood, but with societal changes, Ghabga has taken new forms. Nowadays, Ghabga is held in men’s ‘majlis’ (assembly) for friends and acquaintances, in hotels or restaurants. Some companies and institutions also invite their employees over Ghabga meal, as a kind of boosting relationships among colleagues and helping them get to know each other more.
Ghabga always contains delicious traditional Qatari food, such as Harees, Al Thareed and Luqaimat.
Garangao is one of the prevailing Ramadan traditions that have been passed down by generations in Qatar and the Gulf countries, in general. It is a celebration on the eve of 15th Ramadan during which families bring sweets and nuts and prepare to receive children who roam the streets of the neighborhood “Freej”, knocking on doors and singing traditional songs, to get their share of sweets and nuts.
Garangao is one of the special nights in Ramadan, and it is a great joy awaited by adults and children. This celebration is an encouragement for children to fast during the month, and they are rewarded with nuts and sweets, then they are rewarded for completing the month’s fasting on the day of Eid.
On Garangao night, children wear traditional Gulf clothes; the boys wear new white clothes and the traditional cap “gahfiya”, and they wear the embroidered “Sedairi”, a traditional vest worn over the white dress. As for the girls, they wear the “zari dress” over their normal clothes. It is a brightly colored garment embroidered with golden threads, and they wear the "Bakhnakh", a black cloth decorated with golden threads at the edges to cover their heads, and they wear traditional ornaments.
Iftar Cannon in Ramadan
The Ramadan cannon is an ancient tradition that has been preserved by the Qatari society. The cannon is fired with the Maghrib call to prayer, marking the end of the fasting period. The cannon is usually placed in Souq Waqif, where a Qatari police officer fires the cannon, and children and adults often gather to see the cannon in the market arena.
The Holy Month of Ramadan will always be a special time for adults and children around the world which everyone waits for and celebrates in their own way.