VIDEO: Tight curbs redefine Ramadan traditions

A NUMBER of Ramadan rituals and traditions have undergone dramatic changes as Muslims around the world observe the Holy Month under tight restrictions due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, writes the GDN's Mohammed Al A'Ali.

One such tradition witnessing a change in Bahrain is the call for suhoor – the last meal before the dawn-to-dusk fasting begins.

The popular practice in old neighbourhoods is being adapted to raise awareness about the pandemic and to impress on people the importance of following precautionary measures.

The Musahrati is the man in charge of calling people for suhoor and waking them up, by singing and beating on a drum after midnight.

He calls out phrases to encourage Muslims to wake up and have a meal before the Fajr (dawn) prayer to sustain them through the day.

Other countries across the Arab world have their own versions of the Musahrati depending on varying folklore, customs and traditions.

The Musahrati walks through the alleys, sometimes leading children who repeat his call, or carry drums and other musical instruments.

Playing the role of the Musahrati in Bilad Al Qadeem and Khamis is 50-year-old Bahraini Yasser Al Samak who walks through the neighbourhoods every night at around 12.30am.

“I have been doing this for the past 30 years and used to cover more areas walking and chanting with larger groups but due to Covid-19 things are a bit different this year,” he told the GDN.

“Over the past years I have handed over the drum to a companion while asking whoever is in the streets to help with the clapping.

“I am mindful of social distancing and Covid-19 rules and regulations, and I have also cut short my rounds.”

The caretaker of the Shaiban Mosque in Bilad Al Qadeem said his new songs reflecting on the issue of the coronavirus have become popular on social media.

“Many top writers have started sending me lyrics,” he said.

“For 29 years I have reflected on the spirit of Ramadan with non-repetitive themes but this year I am focusing on raising awareness about the coronavirus, and reminding everyone of the sacrifices made by the medical teams in combating the pandemic.”

Mr Al Samak hoped that others would show interest in taking up the task.

“I married late, when I was in my 40s, and have two daughters, nine and five, or else I would have passed on the traditional community task to them,” he said.

“It is fun and at the same time informative, let’s hope the tradition continues to grow especially when the world is phasing out the old.”

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