By Tamjid Alkohali
“Ramadan must be spent in my village to cleanse the self and spirit,” says Saddam Al-Raymi, who is keen to spend the holy month of Ramadan with his family in his village of Ibb every year.
Ramadan around the world has different religious rituals and traditions, but with development, these rituals and traditions vanish gradually. However, the villages and rural areas still embrace plenty of Ramadan traditions.
Away from the bustle of the city and among the charm of nature, Ramadan in Yemeni villages has a unique flavor, where people live quietly and spirituality throughout the holy month.
From the moment of announcing Ramadan, families begin expressing their happiness through lighting the lanterns and singing songs that relate to Ramadan.
Al-Raymi said that despite the lifestyle of cities changing in Ramadan, it’s still unchanged in the villages.
In the city, the streets and markets during the days of Ramadan are almost empty, and it’s the opposite in the nights, where the shops are open and the streets are crowded and working hours start late in the morning. However, in the village, people wake up as usual in the early morning.
“They almost do not sleep after dawn prayers. They read the holy Quran until sunrise and then they go to their farms and their work. It is the same thing with women who begin early doing their different duties,” Al-Raymi explained.
Daunting Hours in Ramadan
Despite the fatigue of fasting in Ramadan, men work hard under the sunray in their farms until the noon. Then they go to do the noon prayer in the mosque.
Women also work hard. Older women go to feed the cows and the sheep, mothers who are in their middle ages grain the grain, using millstone to prepare the delicious bread, while the young girls go to the valley to bring the water and to clean the clothes there.
“Unlike people in the cities who start their jobs at 10 AM, people in the village must start their work early in the morning. Despite the hunger, thirst and tiredness, they work with conviction, believing that this will increase their reward from Allah,” Al-Raymi said.
Feelings of Faith and Spirituality
After the noon prayers, people take a nap until the afternoon prayers. Then they go to walk under the clean sky and among the green farms, trees, and pure air.
“All the positive feelings come to you at that time. Sense of satisfaction, happiness and comfort as well as the kindness of people and exchanging greetings among them make you feel the beauty of life,” Al-Raymi added.
Food from Nature
While people are walking among the beautiful scenery, they bring fresh fruits and vegetables from farms to the Iftar (dinner).
In the same time, women are in their kitchens preparing for dinner the delicious popular dishes that are made of fresh and natural ingredients.
“The smell of bread that is prepared by firewood, reaches everywhere in the village. Unlike cities where most of the food is brought from supermarkets or restaurants, in the village all the dishes are prepared from local production. For example, Alaseed is made from millet and local Ghee, the Shafoot is made from the milk of sheep or cow, and the meat comes from the animals that grow up in the village. Therefore, we find people in village are healthier than people in cities, where many of the diseases have become widespread,” Al-Raymi explained.
Iftar Strengthens Social Relationships
Before Iftar, the village’s men take their sons to their houses to eat their Iftar, which consists of dates and a dish of Shafoot or any other food, to the mosque.
“After hearing the muezzin in the mosque, people eat together. They intend to eat the food of each other to strengthen the relationship between them,” Al-Raymi said.
After Iftar, the men go back to their houses to complete having their dinner with there families.
After dinner, people do their Taraweeh prayers. Then men go to Qat markets where they meet in front of their friends’ houses. They sit in a room called a Diwan to chew Qat and discuss social, religious, political, and cultural issues.
Women also gather or stay in their house talking together and watching children from the windows singing and playing in the neighborhood.
The happiness of people increases in Ramadan with the visit of many families to their villages.
“In the village people know everything about each other. They feel for each other because they spend a long time talking and asking about each other. However, we have lost this in cities where most people busy in watching TV series, browsing the internet, and shopping,” Raymi added.
The day ends almost at 10 or 11 PM when most of people go to sleep preparing to another beautiful day.