Eid and Ramadhan, Complementing Each Other for the Joy of Yemeni Children [Archives:2001/51/Culture]

December 17 2001

Saad Sharif Taher
No doubt that Eid is a pleasant time full of joy for Yemeni children, as well as all Muslim children all over the world. During this joyful event, children go to playgrounds, visit their relatives, and of course, are given lots of candy and money to buy the toys they like.
However, one should also recall that Ramadhans joy for children is also fascinating. Children boys and girls, celebrate Ramadan in their own ways. They unconsciously share their parents joy of Ramadan. Though they practice their own games and songs all round the year in this month they change their time to night instead of day as all people fast during day.
During the last ten days of the month children focus their games chorally and in groups in beautiful way. Girls stand in facing groups or in one circle holding each others hands and start singing. A girl goes to the center of the circle to sing a part of a song which the others complete after her. It lasts for unlimited time.
Women have their own long, rhythmic and better texts than men do. Therefore theirs are more affective. Boys songs are less in number. The most famous boys are umssiyat [Evening songs]. Those are sung while boys go from a house to another to say Good evening to the inhabitants to give them (the boys) money or sweet rings (gors). Money is called umsiyyah [Evening wage].
In a folkloric tradition they clap and sing local songs led by a leader who sings traditional phrases and other boys repeat with or after him as if they were calling the inhabitant saying:
ya mesa feet amsi min yaim
ya mesa bilgharareh wil shreim
[evening, Ive come to spend night from Yarim to have anything in my bag and sickle]. If the man or the house hold accepts them and enters to bring something, they repeat:
ya saadi ged dekhel yedi,
yedi gries il bir ya saadi.
[I am lucky, Ive won a ring in hand. I am fortunate]. If they are rejected they repeat:
ya misa jeet amsi indukum
ya misa ged kheshelui kelbukum
[Evening, Ive come to spend night with you but your dog scratched me.] During the last two days of Ramadhan the fageeh the pious and the prayers recite sad religious songs over the loud speaker to say goodbye to Ramadan.
Boys have many different games but lets focus on some:
1- Al-Batta which is playing cards. In some places it is called Al-batta [the duck]. Two teams play it. A team that wins 101 point will win.
2- Habs Aman [prison and safety.] Here boys are divided into two teams. One I called prison and the other is safety. A boy from safety advances to wander. If he is caught he will be sent to the second group the prison. If one of the previous team comes and touches him without the other team catching him, the arrested will be free and join the first team. If all the safety team are caught they will be in the prison. The game will be played in the opposite. It will be repeated till they feel bored and stop it.
3-The game of Fifteen: boys stand in a circle of fifteen members holding each others hands. A boy starts counting his number as one the second says two till fifteen. The last one starts chasing the others. He who is touched will go out of the game. The last one will be clapped. Then the game is repeated again and again.
4-Goola wmagwel, goola is a piece of wood (1.5 cm width and 20cm length.) Magwel is a wooden cylinderical stick of 50-70 cm length, and 2-3 cm width. Two stones are needed. Boys are divided into two teams (3-4 players each). A player of the first team puts the goola on the stones and hits it with the magwel. If one the opposite team catches it, the team will get 10 Djabls (points). If not, the distance will be measured with the magwel length, which is considered as ten points. Another player from the opposite team throws the goola towards the magewal which should be put on the two stones. If the goola touches it or it falls nearer than a magewal length, he will win. The other team will start and so on. The team which gets many points is crowned as the winner.
5-Games of bombs, it is played in towns and villages. Children (9-14) years old gather at nights after dinners and divide themselves into two teams. Each team goes to supply plastic bags or empty juice can to fill them with sand. They are called bombs. If it is dark they may use torch lights. Then they hide in some hiding places as the game will start fifteen minutes later.
After that the attack begins individually or in groups by throwing chose false bombs at one another. Sometimes minor causalities happen. If the leader is caught, he will be beaten black and blue. The game continues for two hours and finishes at random.
In each game a child should endure difficulties and injuries.