Ramadan (Id al Feter)
When:Sep - Oct 2008 (annual)
The Muslim fasting month of Ramadan is observed throughout Ethiopia, but it is a particularly intense experience in and around the amazing ancient walled city of Harar in the east, where the largest number of Muslims are concentrated.
During the hot daylight hours, when Muslims are praying and fasting, the city (more a large medieval town) is strangely quiet. As dusk approaches, the tension and excitement slowly build up as people prepare for the moment when they break their fast.
The streets are suddenly filled with bustle and the smell of sambusas (like Indian samosas). Everyone seems to have their little bag of some delicious morsel ready to be munched straight after prayers. Only once their stomachs are full do they emerge, dressed in the beautiful colours of local Harari dress, to greet their friends and neighbours.
Ramadan is a special time in Harar, which is itself a special place. Every evening after the breaking of fast the main square of the town briefly takes on an enjoyably festive atmosphere, with every one out promenading or taking coffee.
At the end of the holy month, there is a festival, Id al Feter, when Muslims break their fast with a huge feast, followed by dancing and festivities. In Harar, particularly, there is a special ceremony whereby grass is laid on the floor for everyone to sit on. There are readings from the Quran and chanting of Muslim hymns. Incense is burnt, and people sit to drink freshly ground coffee and chew khat, a stimulant plant. It is very popular in Harar, so much so that the person who brings the khat is blessed by the the Shaikh, who leads the ceremony.
chew khat, a stimulant plant. It is very popular in Harar, so much so that the person who brings the khat is blessed by the the Shaikh, who leads the ceremony.
I never heard before of someone being blessed by the Sheikh for bring khat!