The splendour of Ramadhan lanterns

Their true origin is a little muddy but there is no denying that glass and clay lanterns have carved a niche for itself during the holy month. A symbol of hope and harmony, here’s a quick look into the fascinating diversity of this multi-coloured Ramadhan must-haves
How often have you visited a souq in Oman and never came back complimenting those assorted parti-coloured glass lamps that flicker with alluring tinted lights?

They are the much adourned Ramadhan Lanterns, which come in different shapes, sizes and colours and add as much grandeur to the holy month.
Clearly of great importance in Islamic culture and a beautiful addition to the festive month, these multicoloured glass lanterns light up every home, shops, hotels and courtyards during the holy month — a way of enlivening every corner and every heart following the blessed stretch of the year. These lanterns are worldwide emblems representing hope and enlightenment during the thirty days of spirituality.
Commonly called ‘fanous’ in Arabic, these lanterns were said to have been inspired by the Greeks with its origin said to have also mean ‘candles.’ The fanous are also believed to have its birth in Cairo.
It is said that they once illuminated halls to greet the Caliph of Cairo several hundred years back. Since then, these lanterns have become iconic ornamentations welcoming the season of the faithful and even today, here in Oman, has also gained prominence.
It has served different purposes over the years but lately, had served as decorations used to enhance Ramadhan tents, gatherings, city streets and even malls. Their designs also communicate the true Arab style merging Islamic designs, decorations, bright colours with Egyptian folklore.
A tradition that has made its inroad to Oman in recent past, buying ‘fanous’ has gained popularity as men, women and even children are constantly seen buying the best shades of lanterns from the store to decorate the entrance and light up their homes.
“Any coloured glass lanterns that enhance my room and the entrance would be my choice during this Ramadhan,” Faisal Al Harthy, who was spotted selecting a fascinating bright pink glass lantern, shared.
“Lights always make us feel good and it gives us hope for a good life and a great year ahead. I bought one for my sister and gave it to her as a gift and she is ready to light it up during this month of the year. Any shades of bright fanous light during Ramdhan brings in peace and harmony within the family,” shared Yahaya, who was also seen busy shopping for lanterns at Muttrah Souk.
As the demand for these lanterns grows, so do the sellers who always come up with even excellent designs year by year. They’ve kept on evolving them which resulted to different shape, size and colours.
Shops and souqs selling these lanterns have seen a boom in their business as well. Prior to Ramadhan, locals are seen thronging at shops in order to buy these lanterns, in a bulk of ten to fifteen assorted items.
“In recent years, many have been fascinated with them and kept buying them for Ramadhan. The customer’s choice varies. Shops and souqs have no dearth of designs and colours for them. This has elevated the lantern business currently and we are hopeful in the years to come,” said Saha, a shop owner at Muttrah Souk.
If glass-lanterns are widely purchased, then have a look at the souq selling clay lanterns which offer different light effects. Clay lanterns also come in different sizes from small, medium to large and their design varies according to who produced them.
The designs being made by local potters can truly compete with the best of them.
Souqs in Nizwa and Muttrah have a plethora of clay-urn lanterns that are equally appealing and a must-have decorative piece for the gardens, open space and home entrance. They are high in demand most especially for those who want to add a go-green feel to their home as the huge pitcher-lanterns enhance the rustic look.
Ranging from RO 8 to RO 60, glass and clay lanterns are items to yearn for. Whatever the true tale of its origin what is important is its lasting symbol and message — that in the holy month of Ramadhan not only do they light up the way, they also send the everlasting message of hope and harmony.