Six explosions in Eritrean capital Asmara, says US State Department    Real Madrid's struggles continue with 2-1 loss to Alaves    New Egyptian league season to end in August; fan attendance not allowed    France's AFD, NBE sign €100 million credit facility agreement    Savills: Boom in global vaccine investment to benefit real estate investors in Middle East    Egypt's exported 4.8 mln tonnes of agriculture products in 11M: Minister    US aircraft carrier deploys to Gulf, Navy says unrelated to 'specific threats'    Ethiopian forces will take Tigrayan capital in coming days, military says    Experts: Virus numbers could be erratic after Thanksgiving    Match winner Afsha continues scoring habit to give Ahly Champions League title    Italy loosens COVID restrictions in five regions, including Lombardy    Egypt's Sisi inspects road projects under construction in Cairo    Light to heavy rainfall forecast in Egypt next week    Ethiopia to generate power from GERD in June 2021, says Ethiopian Minister    Cairo, Alexandria, Gharbiya and Luxor record highest coronavirus infection rates, minister    2021 Grammy Awards: List of nominees in top categories    Egypt's interior ministry takes legal action against 5,226 drivers, 483 shops for violating COVID-19 preventive measures    Sisi calls on citizens to closely observe COVID-19 preventive measures    UAE's ADGM to sign MOU with Israel's securities authority on fintech    Akhenaten performance at the Cairo Opera House is a must go    An advisory chamber    GERD: A point of order?    Leapfrogging the transport network    Cairo International Book Fair suspended for five months over coronavirus concerns    AstraZeneca novel COVID-19 vaccine can be 90% effective, results show    US will reduce number of its troop in Iraq, Afghanistan    Asia forms world's biggest trade bloc, a China-backed group excluding U.S    Egypt unveils largest archaeological discovery in 2020 with over 100 intact sarcophagi    Palestinians mourn the loss their longtime spokesman, Saeb Erekat    Trump says won't blame Egypt for being ‘upset' over GERD dispute with Ethiopia    1st stage of Egypt's parliamentary elections kicks off on Saturday    Global Finance: Egypt's Tarek Amer among the world's top 20 central bank governors    Legend footballer Lionel Messi says he is forced to stay with Barcelona    Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan to resume Nile dam talks today    Iraqi conglomerate eyes developing land that housed Mubarak-era ruling party HQ    Legend Messi officially wants to leave Barcelona, hands transfer request    The Facebook Preacher's Search for Fame, and Egypt's Economy    Egypt calls on UNSC to address oil spill risks off Yemen coast    Egypt economically strong in face of COVID-19, reforms ongoing: International Cooperation Minister    Arafa Holding reports $144,000 COVID-19-related losses in April    Egypt's efforts in Libya to activate free will of Libyan people: Al-Sisi    Hyksos campaigns were internal takeover, not foreign invaders: study    COVID-19 affects Egypt sporting clubs    COVID-19 will soon turn to seasonal like swine flu: Presidential Health Advisor    ‘Egypt's Support' coalition convenes to discuss its Senate election list    Robbery attempt leads to discovery of Ptolemaic monuments in Qena    Flouting international guidance, Ethiopia unilaterally starts filling its Nile dam    Zaha speaks out after online racial abuse    

Thank you for reporting!
This image will be automatically disabled when it gets reported by several people.

Ramadan in Egypt: lights, drums and canons
Published in Daily News Egypt on 05 - 09 - 2008

The moment Ramadan starts, Egypt celebrates the month with all its aspects: the spiritual rituals that conflate fasting, praying and participation in charitable activities; and the social side that includes iftar and sohour feasts, television serials and soccer tournaments. Throughout Egypt's history, some traditions have survived the years with each generation adding its timeless touch.
Some of these Ramadan fixtures include the fanous (lantern), mesaharaty (whose job is to wake people up for the pre-dawn meal) and el-madfa' (the canon signaling iftar time).
The fanous
The history of the fanous can be traced back to the Fatimad era in Egypt.
The laws and social rules restricting women's movement in the town dictated that when they left their houses in Ramadan they should be accompanied by a boy carrying a small lantern, so that the men in the street would move away. Even when such laws were canceled, people loved decorating the streets with the lanterns and the tradition lived on.
Another version of the story says that in Ramadan of the Islamic Hijri year 392, Egyptians used lanterns to greet the new caliph El Muizz li-Din Allah at Cairo's gates. From then on, lanterns became a Ramadan tradition.
The fanous has come to symbolize the holy month, especially for children.
But like every aspect of the economy and social life, the fanous has been affected by globalization. Chinese manufacturers have made their way into this seasonal industry that was once limited to Egyptian craftsmen.
Originally, these festive lanterns were made of tin and colored glass and lit with a candle. Nowadays, there are plastic battery-operated fawanees, in all colors, with pictures of celebrities, that even sing and dance - many of which are made in China.
Disney characters such as Winnie the Pooh and Donald Duck are taking the market by storm as they sing "Halo ya Halo, a traditional Ramadan tune.
Lanterns of Egyptian characters such as Bakar, the Nubian cartoon character, and Sarah's doll, from Hanan Turk's TV series "Sarah, are also available in the market. But the hit of the season is the tok-tok fanous, which is a small tok-tok with a small fawanees hanging all over it. It also sings "Halo ya Halo' and moves around.
"These are toys, they are not a fanous, said one retailer. Despite the fact that the Chinese ones lack the charm of the original, he said, they are still equally demanded.
The mesaharaty
Even though Egypt never sleeps during Ramadan as celebrations continue until dawn, the job of the mesaharaty is still in tact. The job of the mesaharaty is to wake people up for sohour, the pre-dawn meal.
The mesaharaty wakes people up by singing, and calling out their names while keeping a rhythm on his small drum. This tradition started in Baghdad in the eighth century and then spread to most Islamic countries.
Stories suggest that this job started on informal basis, with people waking up their family members and neighbors for sohour. Throughout the years, this task turned into a profession, albeit one that can only be practices for one month each year.
There is no fixed salary for the person, but he receives donations from the people at the end of Ramadan.
The mesaharaty may be extinct in the urban areas, but they are still found in some parts of Cairo and in the villages in the countryside.
Madfa'a El-Iftar
The madfa'a, or the cannon, has traditionally been used to signal the Maghrib prayer, telling people to break their fast.
The original cannon is located at the Saladin Citadel, which used to roar in the silent city at sunset. The tradition started in the Mohamed Ali era in the early 1800s, but different stories are told about how it began. Some say it went off coincidentally at iftar time, and people appreciated the reminder so it quickly became a traditional practice. Others say that the then-ruler of Egypt Mohamed Ali intended to use the canon for this particular purpose.
However, the tradition was carried throughout the years and even when the tradition of firing the canon was temporarily stopped, its recorded sound was aired on national radio and TV stations at iftar time.

Clic here to read the story from its source.