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Garangao, garangao

ramadan
Tonight is the Qatari celebration of garangao. Garangao is a children's celebration on the night of the 14th of Ramadan, when the fasting is half over. At night, the children wear their traditional Qatari (think Bedouin) clothes and go from house to house, singing a song (Garangao, garangao) which promises special blessings from Allah on those who give them treats. All our students are quick to point out, though, that there are no "tricks" involved if they don't.

This year, you may notice, garangao is occurring just days before Halloween, which heightens the similarities between them. However, since Ramadan is based on a lunar calendar that cycles through our solar calendar, this is coincidental.

Our students got together and got garangao treats for all the faculty and staff. In fact, I got one "treat" from the whole freshman class, and three others from individuals. Our students are so sweet! The "treats" all contain a package of nuts -- usually wrapped in burlap -- attached to a usually-ceramic gift. One of my "treats" is a ceramic statue of two ducks kissing; one is a nice small vase, one is two metal bowls glued together to form an oyster shell, and one is a miniature well with the nuts inside. I don't have a camera with me, but I'll try to take pictures this weekend. (We should have DSL back!) Some of my coworkers' ceramic animals that make noises, so we had a great time this afternoon trying them all out. It turns out the ducks and pigs make the same half-quacking half-squealing noise, which added extra amusement to the fact that Qataris would give out PIG gifts. (Some of the ceramic ducks are standing next to beer kegs, so overall the gifts were not too Muslim. We joked about this with a student, who shrugged and said that Qatar accepts all kinds of differences and gifts don't have to be "Muslim.")

How generous of the students to bring these for all of us! I felt bad because when they first told me about garangao I had told them I'd bring sweets for them, but since they're only at school during daylight (fasting) hours I didn't think I should. So I've told them I will bring garangao/Halloween candy on Sunday. This weekend I hope to get more Halloween candy -- I already have some for a party we're hosting -- and find a way of wrapping up little parcels of candy like their burlap parcels of nuts. I want to be able to give them candy in a form that won't be tempting for them to eat before sundown!

Pronunciation note for Mum: I haven't learned how to make the g or gh noise yet; it's a gagging noise. Roll the r, and the a's sound almost like i's -- try more of a Spanish eh noise. So, <gargle>e<rolled r> - eng - <gargle>ow (rhymes with cow). Accent on the last syllable. Good luck!

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( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
(Anonymous)
Sep. 29th, 2007 10:56 pm (UTC)
nice to see your experiences, I'll link to you on www.iloveqatar.net :)
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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Marjorie in Qatar
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