MUSCAT: The Omani society welcomes the blessed month of Ramadhan with happiness, starting with the moon-sighting, shopping, buying Ramadhan supplies, mass fast-breaking in mosques, Taraweeh prayers, reciting the Holy Quran, celebrating Qaranqasho, Habta (market preceding Eid) and Eid al Fitr. All these events add special spiritual feelings to the believers. People gather in their houses to know about the advent of Ramadhan as the Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs begins the moon-sighting process through the astronomical observatories it has developed to monitor the visibility of the crescent.
Among the special rituals of Ramadhan in our community is mass fast-breaking in mosques and family gatherings in the house of the older member of the extended family. The believers in the Sultanate often break their fast mainly with dates, water and milk in addition to home-made meals and pastries, but eating dates to break fast remains necessary, which manifest the link between Omanis and the date-palm trees. It is a habit that is usually inherited by children from their parents and grandparents. The people get ready for Ramadhan by shopping and purchasing food supplies they need to prepare the usual meals during the holy month.
Among other rituals of Ramadhan is the exchange of dishes between neighbours. It is a habit the Omani society is keen to maintain. The habit embodies the concepts of tolerance, brotherhood, familiarity and affection Omanis grow up with. Omanis are also keen during the holy month of Ramadhan to attend Quran Recitations that are held in mosques, especially after the prayers of Maghrib and Fajr. Half-way through Ramadhan, children in the Sultanate and the GCC states celebrate ‘Qaranqasho’. In traditional costumes children and go door-to-door in their neighbourhoods singing and collecting sweets and halwa.
Habta markets (markets preceding Eid) are held in the last days of Ramadhan. They are an open market and is known to the people in the various wilayats of the Sultanate, where all the needs for Eid al Fitr are available. The habta is part of a heritage in the Sultanate, usually held in a distinct traditional atmosphere before the Eid. There are a number of famous habta markets that Omanis wait for, although there are several other markets and shopping malls. — ONA