It’s a different Ramadan this year with no iftar gatherings, no prayers at mosques, and closure of malls and entertainment areas. However, the country has found innovative ways to keep some of the traditions live!
Today is Garanga’oh, also known as Girgaoon, a festive night for children celebrated across the Gulf region around the 14th day of Ramadan. There are some fun and safe activities, including special vehicles loaded with treats and gifts, planned by various organisations for Garanga’oh 2020.
What is Garanga’oh?
Starting right after iftar, children gather in their vibrant traditional costumes in each neighbourhood and start wandering, going from door to door, chanting a special Garanga’oh rhyme while holding cloth sacks to fill them with goodies. The tradition is very similar to the popular American celebration, Halloween. The night continues after the evening prayers till late hours at night. The adults gather at home waiting for the youngsters to show up to fill their sacks with sweets and nuts. Some families pay short visits to each other and exchange greetings and traditional dishes.
Popular across the GCC, Garanga’oh has been celebrated in the region for hundreds of years, originating from the region’s pearl diving history. Although it’s known as Garanga’oh in Qatar and Bahrain, it’s also referred to as Haq al Laylah (Due of the Night) or Haq Allah (God’s Due) in the UAE; Al Garangashooh or Al Tolbah (The Request) in Oman; and Garga’an Night in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
In recent years, Garanga’oh in Qatar has become more than just a traditional ‘trick-or-treat’ night. In order to preserve this folk heritage, schools, hotels, restaurants, and social and sports clubs have also begun to celebrate the traditional night by giving away folk dishes, sacks of Garanga’oh sweets and nuts, and playing folk games. Venues such as Katara Cultural Village and Souq Waqif are popular destinations on Garanga’oh Night as they host a variety of traditional events and invite the public, both Qatari and non-Qatari, to join the celebrations.
With COVID-19 still remaining a threat, all public venues will refrain from hosting Garanga’oh events. Children will refrain from going door-to-door to collect nuts and sweets as well as money. However, many families might still celebrate at home, dressing up for the occasion and celebrating with family as well as give money and Garanga’oh sweets and nuts to children. Folk games and family fun will continue at home.
Garanga’oh 2020 Activities in Qatar
Ministry of Culture and Sports
The Ministry of Culture and Sports tweets that they have organised special buses that will distribute sweets and nuts for children.
The celebration will be organized in collaboration with sports clubs and some entities affiliated with the Ministry of Culture with full commitment to apply preventive measures, and will carry out the mission with volunteers trained in precautionary measures.
تشارك #وزارة_الثقافة_والرياضة الأطفال فرحتهم بالاحتفال بليلة #القرنقعوه وفق الضوابط الاحترازية ووسط أجواء تراثية مبهجة، وذلك يوم الخميس 7 مايو 2020.#ياوطني_ها_أنا_ذا #سلامتك_هي_سلامتي #الوعي_يحمينا pic.twitter.com/Zu0UPZk4Fw
— وزارة الثقافة و الرياضة (@MCSQA) May 4, 2020
Katara Cultural Village
Katara will be sending out special vehicles loaded with gifts and prizes on Garanga’oh night. They have tweeted the areas that will be covered under this initiative.
يوم الخميس 7 مايو #خلك_في_البيت مسابقات – جوائز قيمة – طائرات الدرون – توزيع #قرنقعوه #خلك_في_البيت_وقرقع_ويانا #كتارا #قطر #رمضان #الوعد2022#لنتكاف_من_أجل_قطر #كتارا_ملتقى_الثقافات #كتارا_وجهة_ثقافية_سياحية pic.twitter.com/p3y8He863n
— كتارا | Katara (@kataraqatar) May 5, 2020
Qatar Foundation will be hosting an online session dedicated to explaining the Garanga’oh ceremony that Qataris celebrate at the middle of Ramadan. Speakers will present the story behind the ceremony and demonstrate the traditional clothes people wear during the special day.
Register for the session here.
Qatar Museums and Hamad Medical Corporation
Qatar Museums in cooperation with Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) are jointly launching the ‘Stay Home, Stay Safe’ campaign, to invite families in Qatar to ‘virtually’ come together and celebrate Garanga’oh. Instead of an actual gathering, families are encouraged instead to share images of children in traditional Garanga’oh costumes. The images will be shared on QM’s Instagram page. More details here.
Here’s a short clip of the Qatari Garanga’oh rhyme:
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