Arts & Culture

Ramadan: The Holiest Month of the Year enjoys a different taste in KSA

Ramadan in Saudi Arabia is characterized by a distinctive spiritual atmosphere that differs from anywhere in the world. Everyone in the kingdom waits for this blessed month. Some traditions and customs have not changed or disappeared over time.

During Ramadan, you can see the Saudis’ extensive activity and joy. Malls are crowded with people buying foodstuffs, household adornments, and folk costumes. Saudi families, old and young, spend this month in a wonderful spiritual and faith atmosphere. This is especially true during the last days of Sha’ban.

The Saudis dedicate a day to celebrating “Shaabaniya” or “Shaabanah,” that is, preparing for Ramadan at the end of Shaaban. Banners and billboards welcoming Ramadan fill the streets and markets. Family, friends, and neighbors gather on this day, and all the popular dishes and sweets are served.

 The entry of Ramadan is traditionally marked by observing the crescent. This is despite the development of astronomy and the ease of observing the Hijri months’ days. Various methods of celebrating its beginning include the phrase “Ramadan Kareem”, from which the people of Asir set heavy fires on house roofs to welcome this holy month.

One of the most prominent aspects of Ramadan and the most significant features of the Ramadan atmosphere in Saudi Arabia is the decoration that celebrates the holy month. It is customary to decorate homes with lanterns, Ramadan-printed bedspreads, and serving utensils, such as plates and cups for Arabic coffee, all printed in Ramadan colors.

 As for lighting houses with colored electric threads, decorating trees, hanging fabrics with the phrase Ramadan Kareem written on them, religious supplications, and Quranic verses, these are habits that do not disappear but rather increase in splendor with the advent of the blessed month.

Different kinds of food in Ramadan

Many foods are characteristic of Saudi cuisine during Ramadan, such as Sambousek, Luqaimat, Tamees bread and beans, and Kabsa. A delicious and unique main dish in the Kingdom, Kabsa consists of chicken and rice and has a special taste.

Saudi women prepare for Ramadan by purchasing various necessities and supplies. Then they start to prepare some dishes, which saves time and effort during the preparation of Iftar. This leaves room for worship during Ramadan.

Saudis are used to hearing this famous sentence when the Maghrib call breaks the fast: “The cannon of iftar strikes,” followed by the sound of the Maghrib call to prayer, to announce the start of the fasting day.

Al Masharati

“Wake up, and limit your dime budget. Ramadan Kareem.” This is the phrase Al-Masharati, a word derived from Suhoor, and it is a job he performs during Ramadan and then disappears for the rest of the year.

His voice remains in our minds at the time of Suhoor as he beats on his small, distinctively shaped drum with his small sticks; making a distinctive sound consisting of five beats in a certain tone between his calls to the sleepers to wake up and eat the Suhoor meal before dawn and the beginning of the fast of a new day.

At breakfast, Saudis eat wet dates and water, which they call “breaking the empty stomach”. Then people return to eat light food such as soup, sambousek, and puffs, and light items such as pastries, in addition to Ramadan juices. In addition, they sip red tea with Ramadan sweets while watching Ramadan series and programs that accompany Iftar time.

Saudis often eat breakfast, such as chicken or meat dishes with rice, mandi, madhbi, kabsa, biryani, madfoon, compressed, Mathloutha, and others. In addition, they drink juices, the most popular of which are vimto, lemon juice with mint or ginger, and orange juice with carrots. The most significant thing on the breakfast table is the famous tamis bread.

 Tarawih Prayers

Saudi families gather together to perform Tarawih prayers after fumigating the house. Then they wait for the Suhoor meal that the women prepare. This includes kabsa with meat or chicken as a main dish, as well as sayadiyah, which consists of fish, and other popular dishes.

Family visits

Family visits often begin after the Tarawih prayers. Several families have a tradition of having breakfast in the house of a family member every day of Ramadan. This is done starting with the house of the oldest member. Some distribute samples of iftar food to neighbors so everyone exchanges food.

Charity increases during Ramadan, such as setting up breakfast tables near mosques, and distributing light breakfast meals at traffic lights. After the twenty-seventh day of Ramadan, people start distributing Zakat al-Fitr and their alms to the poor, and they continue to do so even before the Eid prayer.

Performing the Umrah

Many are keen to perform Umrah in Ramadan, and some perform I’tikaf in the Prophet’s Mosque or the Grand Mosque in the last ten nights of Ramadan.

Work time

Working hours and official working hours change in the Kingdom, so working hours is reduced by an hour or two.

Ramadan between the present and the past

Fasting during Ramadan in Saudi Arabia differed from now. Life aspects often change in many cities. Despite the harshness of life and the difficulty of living in the past, the high temperatures, and the lack of air conditioning and refrigeration, people fasted with pleasure.

Sometimes Ramadan comes in hot temperatures in some regions of the kingdom. Except when going to noon prayer, the streets and squares are almost empty of pedestrians. Life begins in the streets and squares at noon when people try to fulfill their needs in the markets.

To prepare Ramadan tables, people slaughter sacrifices at Ramadan’s beginning, especially sheep and goats.

Ramadan in Saudi Arabia’s mountains and its villages has a special flavor, unforgettable memories, and beloved traditions. Young people in many cities pray in mosques and places of worship late at night and in playgrounds.

From there, in the Al-Abla’ desert, west of Bisha and south of Saudi Arabia, Mubarak Al-Anzai, one of the elders, talks about Ramadan in the past. He says they used to endure a long fast, spending the entire day grazing sheep and camels under the blazing sun.

“We suffered from severe thirst to the point that we got very stressed, yet life was beautiful. Our breakfast was very simple. It was dates, coffee, and bread, buried under hot coals. Date juice is called “marisa” and camel milk is called camel milk. A bit of cool lemon goes well with iftar (breakfast) in the Bishi”

Al-Anzai recalls games they played during Ramadan in the past. As a form of chess, they moved groups of pebbles on the ground during Ramadan nights. Suhoor meals consisted of bread, ghee, and milk.

Saudis often missed Ramadan started a long time ago. Due to the lack of media, some Saudis knew the month started on the fourth day. They only knew when someone came back from cities or told them about those with radios. In the current era, people enjoy comforts and breaking their fast with various types of food and drinks.

Entertainment in Ramadan

In some regions in the mountains, there is a lack of entertainment means and places that may help youth gatherings such as parks and clubs. Therefore, young men prefer to play volleyball in the open air, forming a field, a network, and two teams. A Ramadan club or a Ramadan center would give them an outlet to spend their time doing something beneficial. This is especially true since Ramadan coincides with summer vacation. There are no activities during the summer or Ramadan, while others head for wilderness sessions where they spend the night.

Expatriates stories

Perhaps what distinguishes Ramadan spirituality in Saudi Arabia, like other regions and governorates of the Kingdom, is the atmosphere of brotherhood, affection, interdependence, and Islamic harmony. This is among the many Muslim communities in the province.

Many expatriate workers from the Arab and Islamic communities yearn to return to their homelands to fast during Ramadan among family, loved ones, and friends. However, working conditions in Saudi Arabia prevent them from fulfilling their desire.

To compensate for this, some cooperative offices for advocacy, guidance, and educating communities in various regions of the Kingdom are undertaking a fasting breakfast project to bring harmony and brotherhood among Muslims and spread the spirit of cooperation, brotherhood, and equality between them as if they were between their families and their brothers.

To set up Ramadan Iftar camps in villages and neighborhoods, supporters and benefactors work in advocacy offices, where volunteers and benefactors take part. They have air conditioners, water, and mattresses.

“The customs of Ramadan in Saudi Arabia are no different from those in Egypt, and we in Saudi Arabia have become brothers as if we are among the family in Egypt,” an Egyptian expatriate said.

He added: If we gather with our Arab and Muslim brothers at the Iftar table, fraternity, affection, and love are born between us. Muhammad Asif from Pakistan says: The collective iftar makes him feel like he is in Pakistan between family and loved ones.

The blessed month of Ramadan adds more community communication, especially in the evening period. Al-Hara Mosque remains the point of intense social interaction between men and women when performing Tarawih prayers together. Some form groups for Samar after Tarawih prayers.

There are usually between 5 and 10 members who had agreed on the night before Ramadan to join the group before entering the holy month. Each night, they meet at someone’s house so that he takes over their hospitality until after midnight and typically offers them a sacrifice (dinner) in addition to whatever the trip is proud of.

Throughout the Ramadan period, food and drinks are served. Meetings continue until the twentieth night of Ramadan, after which the congregation prays Tahajjud and worships in the last ten days of Ramadan.

Other meetings are held between families and neighbors, especially among women who visit and chat on Ramadan nights. They bring what they had for breakfast.

Women in Ramadan are the most hard-working, especially in the afternoon until sunset, as they are busy in the kitchens preparing breakfast and competing to provide distinctive and delicious Ramadan food and drinks for their families.

Benefits of fasting in Ramadan.

Fasting during Ramadan controls sugar levels and fights infections. Fasting has many benefits. In Ramadan, some may feel tired from the long hours of fasting, but the good news is that fasting provides health for your body.

Fasting is healthy for your body and can have several health benefits if you do it the right way. Here are some scientific facts about fasting.

1- It promotes blood sugar control by reducing insulin resistance.

 Several studies show that fasting improves blood sugar levels. This can be particularly beneficial for people linked to diabetes risk.

Type 2 diabetes symptoms can be improved with intermittent fasting. This enables the regulation of blood sugar increase. In addition, intermittent fasting or alternate fasting can reduce calorie intake and the body’s sensitivity to it more efficiently.

2- It fights infections

 Acute inflammation causes many diseases and infections. If fasting improves chronic or acute inflammation, it can treat many serious problems, such as: –

 Rheumatoid arthritis.

Heart disease

Chronic diseases

Cancer risk

Low levels of viral or bacterial infections

Heart health

3- It promotes heart health

Heart disease can cause life-threatening complications and is one of the leading causes of death around the world, accounting for about 31.5% of global deaths, so anything that lowers this rate is very beneficial for health. Fasting reduces heart disease risk by improving blood pressure, triglycerides, and cholesterol levels. Switching up your diet and implementing a fast can improve your overall health.

4- It enhances brain function

We all know that the brain is one of the most critical parts of the body. There have been some studies that suggest fasting can have a significant impact on your cognitive health. People who fast regularly or follow an intermittent fasting routine improve brain caliber and brain structure. It can help develop neurons and promote cognitive health. It can also help treat neurodegenerative disorders.

5- It helps you lose weight

 Fasting can be used to lose weight and improve body weight based on BMI. Fasting can improve calorie intake and dissolve excess body fat by using it during fasting. Fasting also boosts metabolism. Maintaining the norepinephrine neurotransmitter that leads to weight loss, a full day of fasting can reduce body fat by up to 9%. This can significantly reduce body fat for 12-24 weeks.

6- It increases growth hormone secretion

Growth hormone found in a type of protein is an essential aspect of health that improves metabolism. Research shows this is the main hormone responsible for body weight and muscle strength. It improves metabolism, naturally increasing levels of growth hormone in the body, and helps with fasting for 24 hours significantly increasing growth hormone production by 5-fold.


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