Habits practiced in Ramadan [Archives:2005/889/Culture]

October 27 2005

Ramadan Cannon:

The first shot of the Ramadan cannon is fired as a sign of fast-breaking time the holy month of Ramadan, inherited from the Turkish army in the early 20th century, this cannon is fired in all major Yemeni cities. There are many tales related to the Ramadan cannon since it is one of the prominent habits practiced in Ramadan before the spread of media, to the extent that the cannon still operates on the mechanism used by the Turkish army over 100 years ago.

In the old days, people at home, in restaurants and mosques used to listen to the sound of the cannon at the time of iftar and sahur. As the time of sunset draws nearer, children in Taiz gather and shout “Oh Ali Hamoud, shoot, shoot.” Ali Hamoud is the man who operates the cannon at the time of iftar at the peak of Mountain Saber.


What attracts attention in the markets of Sana'a, Taiz and Hodeida is the spread of sanboosa shops, and most of the shops make sanboosa only in the month of Ramadan. There is no particular reason why people demand sanboosa only in Ramadan and queue up in front of the sanboosa shops who prefer commercially produced sanboosa rathan than to make them at home. This type of food is typically offered with iftar, and no one can see a banquet in any house or restaurant without sanboosa.


In addition to the interest of people in sanboosa, a large number of Yemenis care for shafoot which ever exists in every Ramadan banquet. Shafoot is composed of bread and dairy and greens which are added to it after half an hour of the making process. It is an important meal that is eaten by most people all around the republic particularly those living in Sana'a. It is remarkable that the majority of women seize the opportunity during Ramadan to make this meal and sell it in the markets in large quantities due to the huge flow of people to buy it during the daytime.

Signs of changes in Ramadan:

One of the most important aspects in life during the holy month of Ramadan in Yemen is the continuous buying and selling in the capital streets throughout the night. Most shops remain open up until sunrise. This is what distinguishes Ramadan in Sana'a as streets remain crowded with people throughout the night, and people stay sleepless over night and then sleep in the morning.

Women in Ramadan:

During the daytime, housewives prepare the meal of iftar, which requires extensive efforts from them as this meal in the Yemeni houses is always varied. There are numerous types of food which families had only during Ramadan such the dishes of Shurba (soup-like liquid substance), shafoot, spaghetti, and greens, in addition to different types of juice.

Heads of the household care for the provision of different meals and this requires housewives to double their efforts in kitchens to prepare the varied meal of iftar.

In the evening, women are used to go out to the markets to buy clothing for them and their children to take advantage of the Sales and discounts during the month. Some of them go out for sessions with other women in the neighborhood. These sessions are specific to people living in the cities. A large number of women ask for fatawa (religious advice) during Ramadan nights, and this is why there is a remarkable increase in the number of religious programs in the Radio and the television.

One of the people responsible for the preparation of Ramadan programs wondered at the great influx of women asking for fatwa. Some of them are believed to postpone their questions from the beginning of year until the month of Ramadan and then raise them to religious scholars on the occasion.

From the social perspective, domestic problems and quarrels between the husband the his wife exacerbate in Ramadan due to the requirements and needs of this month, particularly if the husband has no work or is of scant income. Family and children needs increase in Ramadan, particularly as people exchange visits and pride themselves in the purchase of expensive articles that can not fit their incomes. And sometimes these quarrels between both spouses lead to the divorce.