Thursday, September 25, 2008

Ramadan, prayer calls, jeuner, and this is what happens when 95% of the population is Muslim!

According to my Histoire de l'Islam class, the penetration of Islam into Senegambie did not occur until the 10th century (though it had existed since the 7th century in what we consider as today's Middle Eastern region). But, that's enough of a verbal/written history class lesson for this blog...what is going on around me is more interesting! So, with that, I have officially dedicated this blog entry to Ramadan, prayer calls, je°ner, and Korite! On y va!

As many of you know, some more than others...cough...ANEEB...cough..., it is Ramadan in Senegal.... as well as in every other country around the world (obviously just more visible in some countries over others). Ramadan began at the beginning of September and will last until the end of the month; the holiday itself is driven by the lunar calendar. During Ramadan, Muslims fast or jeuner from sun-up to sun-down, no eating or drinking during the entire day (though there are some exceptions, if you're sick, pregnant, a young child, etc...) So, my family gets up at about 5am to eat breakfast and they break their fast at about 7:20pm with bread and coffee...that's more than 12 hours of not eating! Someday, maybe tomorrow, I am going to try and fast...I think that it will be an extremely rewarding experience, allowing me to further immerse myself in the culture. I know that before my arrival in Senegal I said that I was going to try and fast for the entire month...that was not going to happen once I felt the heat and humidity as soon as I got off the plane. Instead, as just mentioned, I will be picking one day to not eat or drink during daylight.

So, Muslims need to pray at least five times a day…and from my understanding there are designated prayer times (most likely dependant on the time of day…just a guess), and in Dakar all of the mosques have loud speakers that project these "prayer calls" across the city. For example, I know that my family prays at around 7:45pm (right after we have broken fast) and at around 8:45pm (right be for we get ready to eat)…the other times they pray, I do not know because I am at school. Sometimes my family prays together, but regardless if it is the entire family or not, the males are always in front of the females. Furthermore, women must cover their heads and wear dresses or skirts, while men must wear pants or the traditional robe that covers their legs. It is all very interesting, and I think that after Ramadan is over it will be interesting to compare the difference between what I am seeing now and what I will be seeing while the Muslim population is not fasting.

KORITE!!!! It is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, October 1, but the holiday is dependant on the lunar calendar…so it could be the day before or after…we will find out! Korite is a celebration of the end of Ramadan. I am very excited for Korite because, like Chinese New Year, I have purchased new clothes…everyone buys new, bright clothes for the festival! Now, when I say purchased, I mean I went to Marche HLM in downtown Dakar to buy 5 meters of green fabric (10 000 CFA), then I went to the tailor, and now I am waiting for my outfit to be completed…I did not go down to the nearest store and lay down 50 000 CFA! Now, I can finally say that I am having clothes made only/just for me…and not at a bad price either…but again that is considering my US dollar during a US economy pre-half-the-banks-in-the-US-closing, etc…

Person wondering about the US economy, the bailout plan, the "PALIN-McCain" ticket, …or simply ALEX


Aneeb said...

Jue I am glad ur loving the culture!
see its not all about 'allah allllah and blowing up!

sham said...

umm... I feel like the mention to Aneed is a little much, considering he is a bad Muslim, Sinner!! But I too am also glad that yu are having so much fun! Love the story about the new Eid outfit... I was reading it and at first glance assumed HLM meant H&... and I was all, They sell fabric?! Haha, anyways we are having an economic forum at wooster soon.. have any questions you would like me to pass onto Moledina? Good luck on ur fast and have fun on Korite!