Today, 6th of May 2019 marks the start of the month-long celebration of Ramadan. During this season, all Muslims are expected to fast and refrain from consuming food, drinking liquids, smoking, engaging in sexual relations and sinful behaviors that may negate the rewards of fasting.
This annual observance is regarded as one of the Five Pillars of Islam where fasting for Muslims typically includes the increased offering of prayers, reading of the Quran, as well as good deeds and charity.
Suhoor is their pre-fast meal which is prepared before dawn, while the post-fast breaking feast after sunset is called Iftar. In the olden times, these celebrations are held at home. But as time progressed, people started to gather in Ramadan Tents to eat their daily Iftar meals. Ramadan tents have become a place for people to meet with family and friends to break the fast at sunset. And over the years, it has become one of the most anticipated events.
As an expat in Qatar for a long time now, I have become more and more amazed by how Ramadan Tents have evolved. Most notable of which are the lavish decorations and set up at the banquet halls of five-star hotels around the city. Buffet dinner with exquisite menu and varieties of delicacies are made available at an average price of QR150-QR200 per person which usually comes with live entertainment to complement the ambiance. Some may even opt for a grandiose and more intimate Ramadan setup on top of a hotel’s helipad if you’re willing to pay the price.
Not only that, even regular restaurants are also offering Iftar and Suhoor especially for busy professionals and families who don’t have time to prepare their food. They are relatively less expensive and not as extravagant as those in hotels, but regular workers and families find it more economical and practical.
But the most striking for me is not only those flashy buffet setups and elegant decorations. I found a deeper meaning of the celebrations in the middle of those long lines of people… or those piles of sandals at the entrance of a simple white tent at the street corner… or those small Iftar boxes being distributed along the streets. I found it in the generous heart of those who are sharing for the poor… those private companies, the non-profit organizations, the spirit of unity and volunteerism during the “holy month”.
My heart also finds joy in the middle of every family who is gathering… be it at home, or small restaurants or in luxury hotels. When I see grandparents and small kids, and parents and their children gathered in every iftar or suhoor tables, it’s a golden moment to see genuine love, generosity, and harmony.
And much more, I am thankful that they are allowing the expat communities to take part in their holy celebrations. It was proof that unity exists even in a diverse culture and people of different beliefs.
As bloggers, we’ve been invited to try many iftar and suhoor offers around town. We were amazed at the decors, as much as the variety of foods being served. We also had a chance to take part in the charity works with a non-profit organization that spearheads a campaign aimed at food wastage during Ramadan.
I believe in the higher purpose that goes far beyond all that glitters. May everyone see this season as an opportunity – TO BE BETTER, FOR OTHERS. That is, “to be a better person” and “to do good deeds for others”.