Building Bridges – Ramadan Kareem
Ramadan, the holy month; for the first time I am spending it in Egypt, and surrounded by family. Driving through Alexandria you’ll see many of the streets decorated with streamers and colorful lanterns. Many people have also decorated their balconies with Ramadan decorations. Every night before morning prayer a man known as the “mesaharaty” walks through the streets hitting a drum to wake everyone up to eat suhoor before the rest of the day. In Cairo it is not as simple for a man to walk up and down every street, especially in the compounds; however, I did see one walking through the mall late at night. He was hitting his drum and chanting the old traditional song.
“اصحى يانايم وحد الدايم رمضان كريم”
“Esha ya nayem, wahhed al-dayem, Ramadan kareem,”
Which loosely Translates into “Wake up sleeping ones, and pray, Happy Ramadan”
I can hardly explain the feeling I got upon seeing the man and hearing him chant. It has been a tradition in Egypt for many years, and now it is one I have experienced.
In Egypt Ramadan really does revolve around family life. Iftar dinner (breaking fast) with the family on a daily basis is amazing! To spend every night with comfortable familiar faces only brings everyone closer; and so far it has been happening to me. It is a little over half way through the month and I honestly feel as though my family bonds with my extended family has grown a million times stronger than before.
I have always considered Ramadan to be a time to reflect – a cleansing month. In all honesty, I’ve never really taken the month seriously. Stay up all night, sleep till sunset, eat, and repeat the cycle over and over again. For the first time, I’m taking things seriously. Here I am, surrounded by family, in my home country with a newfound care regarding my actions. I have been taking this time to look back on myself and decide what I want to change to better myself for my future.
The timing of Ramadan is perfect. It is summer, and when the month ends, I’ll have a few weeks before I start University. I feel as though this marks the end of everything I have left behind, and the beginning of the adventure that I am about to embark on.