Thousands of children celebrated Garangao last night across Qatar, visiting houses to recite traditional songs and collect nuts and sweets in return.
The festival, which began yesterday, traditionally marks the middle of Ramadan and usually goes on for several days across the region.
Children go from house to house, with the girls dressed in the traditional colourful bukhnaq and dara’a (traditional dress) and the boys wearing a dishdasha (thobe), and sing a variety of traditional songs accompanied by drumbeats and the fraisa dance.
Traditionally, families who greet the children at their doorstep usually keep ready a variety of Garangao goodies in a big basket made of palm tree leaves, and they scoop the candies and nuts and put them into the children’s bags, which used to be stitched from fabric by their mothers.
The celebrations usually start after Iftar prayers, after which the children go around their neighbourhood until late at night.
Parents along with their children were seen busy shopping at sweet shops around Doha yesterday. Many shops witnessed brisk sales of candies, nuts, specially-designed Garangao bags and traditional attire.
A Qatari national at a shopping centre said, “there is a change in the celebration of Garangao over the years and there seems to be a bit of commercialisation of the event nowadays.”
“Today, Garangao is put in customised bags containing famous brands of candy and chocolates, and they are usually pre-packed,” he said.
“There is also a change in the clothes the children wear, in addition to the introduction of new songs alongside the traditional ones.
“In the past, what was distributed was mainly peanuts, dry chickpeas, sweets and a few coins,” he said. “Now even the traditional clothes are being put under brand names,” he added.
Helen, a visitor from the UK who was observing the children celebrating Garangao at a shopping mall, said, “It was very joyful watching the small children fully dressed in their traditional clothes and singing. Its very pleasing to see that people here are still sticking to their heritage and continue to practice age-old traditions”.
The celebrations have undergone a change over the years, mainly due to concerns over safety. Fewer children go out on the streets for the celebrations due to the increase in road accidents over the years, and instead opt to celebrate indoors in malls, hotels, cultural clubs and educational institutions.
The Traffic and Patrol Department has made elaborate arrangements to ensure that the children celebrate the festival in a safe environment.
The department has urged motorists to drive slowly and take more precautions whenever they see children crossing the roads. It will also deploy more patrol vehicles to ensure safe movement of traffic in the evening.
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