Celebrating Qaranqasho: a taste of the past

ZAINAB AL NASSRI –
By the 14th of Ramadhan every year, Oman celebrate Qaranqasho, a traditional ceremony where children go around the village after sunset asking for sweets or money while singing special rhythms that differ from one region to another. In that evening, children dress up their best traditional clothes and go door-to-door, chanting “Qaranqasho you nas Attona shiwayat halwa” means please give us some candy. Chanting actually is what gives the ritual its unique spirit as the voices of children raise up in the neighborhood.

Qaranqasho used to be a way to reward children who successfully fast the first half of the month, and to encourage them to continue through the second half, families make small bags for their children to put money in there.
In the past, the bags used to be made from fabrics. Today, there are special designs for the bags as well as for the cloths and even sweets. Children await this day and compete with their counterparts with their clothes and bags.
“My children are very picky regarding qaranqasho celebration. Every year I have to move days before this day to make everything all set for the celebration. I order special t-shirts, bags, balloons and gifts with the word ‘qaranqasho’ written on or some related drawings from local designers or from stores where they are also available” Asma al Shibli, a housewife, said.
Qaranqasho celebrations, however, used to be held in neighborhoods and among houses. Nowadays, big malls conduct various activities for children to celebrate the occasion.
“We used to carry empty cans for the sweets in Qaranqasho and tour around the village knocking doors to get some sweets, but our children now celebrate it differently. At mid of Ramadhan, I usually take them to malls where they enjoy all kinds of fun games,” said Noora al Kindi, a mother of two.
She continued, “the spirit of the day is still there as long as we share this joy with our kids. We, as mothers, contribute in making gifts for our children’s friends and compete with each other to give the best.”