In contact with others, we learn how to communicate, be tolerant, live lives through the eyes of others, reduce stereotypes, be less judgmental, etc.
If you are in The Gambia during Easter and Ramadan, you have an amazing opportunity to know more about how Christians and Muslims celebrate holidays in peace and tolerance.
EASTER IN THE GAMBIA
This year, Easter will occur on Sunday, April 4, 2021.
Schools, public institutions and some of the stores in the country will be closed from Thursday 1st of April because Christians will break their 40-day fast on Friday and then they will devote themselves to prayer and visiting churches from Friday to Monday.
Although Christians make up only 10% of the population, everything is closed during the holidays, so believers can go to mass and prepare for the celebrations in peace. This is religious tolerance and an explanation of peace, which the people of this country have been enjoying for a long time. All this is due to efforts of people creating an atmosphere of camaraderie and love among the Gambians, regardless of ethnic differences. The religious tolerance in the country is high and we are proud of that.
Dyeing Easter eggs is not common in The Gambia. In some churches, they give eggs to poor people (everyone gets one or two eggs). They organize various Easter competitions on Saturdays and bless people with holy water, which they take home in order to bless their food and living space. This an ancient ritual of purification. The dessert, which they prepare for the Easter holidays, is a thick drink made of baobab, rice flower, ground rice and sugar called Naan mburu. They give it out to relatives, neighbours and friends as a way of giving alms. Usually, during the day, along with the drink, people eat the same food as always. The children receive new clothes and shoes if it’s possible.
May the Easter celebration be merry, satisfactory, full of sunshine, laughter for all of you, who celebrate! May it strengthen the belief in kindness, which never ends!
May all children of the world have Easter holidays blessed with peace, hope and love!
RAMADAN IN THE GAMBIA
If you are in The Gambia during the holy month of Ramadan, you have an amazing opportunity to know more about it.
International media often presents Muslim countries as one single story that generalizes the entire population, cultures, and customs. But the fact is that every country, region, tribe, and family have its own way and if we learn from each other and respect each other, we can live in harmony.
The best way to know more about the certain holiday and their rituals is to spend time with Gambians and their families, taste traditional food and learn about the charity activities among families, neighbours, and strangers.
Muslims all over the world observe the holy month of Ramadan. It is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting, prayer, reflection and community.
Fasting between 29 days to 30 days from sunrise to sunset is obligatory for all adult Muslims who are not acutely or chronically ill, travelling, elderly, breastfeeding, diabetic, or menstruating.
The spiritual rewards of fasting are believed to be multiplied during Ramadan. Accordingly, Muslims refrain not only from food and drink but also tobacco products, sexual relations, and sinful behaviour, devoting themselves instead to salat (prayer) and recitation of the Quran.
Eid ul-Fitr, locally called Koriteh, marks the end of Ramadan and traditionally lasts for approximately three days. A typical routine of a day that comes within that special time involves the following:
- Waking up early and greeting the family
- Performing Salah (prayers)
- Performing ghusl (ablution)
- Preparing clothes (often new attire) and getting ready for the day ahead
- Sitting down for breakfast with family and friends
- Ensuring Zakat-ul-Fitr is paid prior to Eid Salah
- Performing Eid Salah in congregation
- Greeting all fellow Muslims and wishing them a blessed Eid
- Visiting family and friends and celebrating
The festivities are characterised by thanking Allah (SWT) for his help and blessings through the successful completion of the month.
In The Gambia, parents and families focus on prayers and preparing food for the whole family. Children wear new dresses and shoes. Men usually attend early morning prayers in new kaftans. In the evening, all the country is celebrating in different ways. People attend concerts, local events and family gatherings. If a family can afford it, ram is killed and shared among neighbours and poor people.
Ramadan Kareem in advance to our followers, families, friends and all Muslims around the world!