Last Update 19:30
Monday, 21 October 2019

In praise of Ramadan lanterns

Ramadan, the month of piety and colourful lanterns, is a time of rich traditions passing back through the ages

Amira Noshokaty , Saturday 28 Jun 2014
Ramadan Lantern
Imported mass-produced Ramadan lanterns (Photo: Mai Shaheen)
Share/Bookmark
Views: 6728
Share/Bookmark
Views: 6728

Ramadan Lantern
A man makes Ramadan lanterns by hand in Sayyida Zeinab workshop (Photo: Mai Shaheen)

Ramadan is the month of piety and generosity. The family gatherings, the television shows, and sweet consumption that accompanies it, not to mention the 30 days of street banquets that provide free iftars (the breaking of the fast) for the underprivileged.

But in Egypt, it is also the month of colourful lanterns (Fanous Ramadan) that dangle from balconies with shimmering decorations and that make even the smallest underprivileged alleys beautiful. However, this year the Ramadan lantern took a political flair, making Egypt's newly elected president, Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi, their leading figure. 

According to the National Folklore Archive, Ramadan lanterns originated on 5 Ramadan 358 hegira (24 July 968 AD) when the Fatimid Caliph Al-Mo’ezz entered Cairo at night and the populace carried torches and candles as they went out to welcome him.

In order to shield the candles from the wind, some placed the candles on a wooden platform and wrapped the platform with palm fronds and leather. The Egyptian tradition lived on to date.

I am grateful for Ramadan lanterns, the simple and the complex, and even the ones with garish music. Grateful to the Egyptian tradition that survived centuries and crossed borders. The fanous, in all its shapes and forms, from the tin lanterns with candles down to ones made in China, is an enlightening gesture that combats darkness with grace and beauty across the ages. 

All Ramadan lanterns are enchanting because all lanterns bare light.

Ramadan Karim.

Ramadan Lantern
Shops display Ramadan lanterns in El-Hussein neighborhood (Photo: Mai Shaheen)

Short link:

 

Email
 
Name
 
Comment's
Title
 
Comment
Ahram Online welcomes readers' comments on all issues covered by the site, along with any criticisms and/or corrections. Readers are asked to limit their feedback to a maximum of 1000 characters (roughly 200 words). All comments/criticisms will, however, be subject to the following code
  • We will not publish comments which contain rude or abusive language, libelous statements, slander and personal attacks against any person/s.
  • We will not publish comments which contain racist remarks or any kind of racial or religious incitement against any group of people, in Egypt or outside it.
  • We welcome criticism of our reports and articles but we will not publish personal attacks, slander or fabrications directed against our reporters and contributing writers.
  • We reserve the right to correct, when at all possible, obvious errors in spelling and grammar. However, due to time and staffing constraints such corrections will not be made across the board or on a regular basis.
Latest

© 2010 Ahram Online.