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Socialising during Ramadan is missing these days, it is more confined to social networking sites: TRNC envoy

Socialising during Ramadan is missing these days, it is more confined to social networking sites: TRNC envoy


Maneesh Bakshi
Doha
SOME of the activities during the Holy Month of Ramadan may have changed in recent years, but many of its traditions having roots in the Ottoman Empire still continue, said the Ambassador of Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) HE Dr Tayseer al Shanableh.
In an interview with Qatar Tribune recently, Shanableh said:"When I look back to my childhood days and compare the way we observed Ramadan in those days, I find many differences. And the most important thing that I find missing today is socialising among people."
The ambassador said:"Unlike today, during our childhood days, Ramadan was very much a social occasion where members of the community would volunteer to take up different responsibilities and take part in community activities whereas today our social interaction is confined to exchange of greetings and that too on social networking sites."
According to Shanableh, special useful objects like 'qandeel' and 'fanous' (lamp), which had great utility during Ramadan in the earlier days, have been reduced to become mere objects of decoration and heritage today.
The ambassador said:"One of the popular traditions in Cyprus during Ramadan in those days was to form a team comprising a drummer, a piper and a person carrying 'fanous', that would wake people up before suhour so that people could prepare themselves for another day of fasting."
"With the advent of modern electricity, 'fanous' gradually lost its utility and became an object of decoration and a symbol of heritage. Life was much simpler in those days with different communities enjoying a harmonious relationship based on mutual respect," Shanableh said.
Pointing out another major difference, he said:"Unlike today when electronic gadgets have become the primary source of entertainment for people, during my childhood days, there was no Internet and television had a limited reach. Entertainment after fasting was then only a community affair."
Shanableh said that most people in the earlier days would have iftar in their homes or in their friends' places and then would go for Taraweeh prayer. Then, men and women would have separate entertainment sessions until suhour. Women stayed indoors and entertained themselves by socialising and participating in games, he added.
"Ramadan had a different flavour in those days with the spirit of the holy month being all pervasive. The content of entertainment was much different than what we have today. It was more direct, intense and spiritual," he also said.
"Turkish style of shadow puppetry called 'Karagoz' was very much part of our tradition in Northern Cyprus and all the children as well as adults would enjoy the show in the evening. Besides, 'Maddah' would entertain the public by telling interesting stories from the past and present. All the entertainment events were presented by local artists," the ambassador said.
Besides offering rich entertainment, Ramadan in those days also boasted of rich dining tables for iftar starting with lentil soup to main course that would have different kinds of meats, vegetables and rice and ending with special desserts. Freshly baked Ramadan 'Chorek' (an oval-shaped bun) with black seeds is typical during iftar.
Talking about special drinks during Ramadan, he said:"Cyprus is known for its quality citrus fruit and most of the drinks consumed during Ramadan like lemonades, are also refreshing and good for health after the long hours of fasting."
"Ramadan is the month of 'barka' and brotherhood. So, it's a common practice for wealthy households to do charity and distribute food among the poor in Northern Cyprus. Besides, families welcome guests to break fast," the ambassador added.
Above all, for Shanableh, Ramadan is a reminder of goodness, equality and piety and it provides opportunity for haves to serve the have-nots!

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