Ramadan is the time of piety, fasting and prayers; it is a time when traditions and customs come to the fore. Passed on from one generation to another, these noble traditions are now beginning to wane under the influence of modernity. The Ramadan cannon is a tradition that has been kept alive despite all recent advancements in technology.
Originating in Egypt, the Ramadan cannon became a practice that was embraced by various other countries in the Arab World. Though it is of no practical use to this generation, thanks to internet and mobile apps, it is still preserved in many parts for its symbolic significance during the holy month.
Dating back to the early 1960s, the cannon was fired every day, since the first day of Ramadan, to convey the end of a day’s fast, and the beginning of Iftar.
Even though times have changed, and the tradition is quite old, it is very much anticipated by all its spectators, and is held onto tightly by the observers of the Islamic world. A single shot announces the end of a fast, while two shots announce the beginning of the blessed month of Ramadan, and Eid al-Fitr. Kuwait too participates in this tradition.
The firing of the ‘Midfa al-Iftar’, which takes place daily at the Naif Palace in Kuwait City, not only attracts families, but is also broadcasted live on Kuwait television channels and radio.
The firing, which is conducted by three guards in red livery, is usually held in the open yard of the palace decorated to honor the custom. A few other Kuwaiti traditions that have stood the passage of time include:
Graish: A traditional preRamadan feast when family members and even neighbors gather before the commencement of the holy month.
Girgian: Similar to the Western ‘trick or treat’, children go from door to door trying to collect candies and nuts.
Ghabqas: Where friends and families gather to spend Ramadan evenings together. Although many of the customs and traditions have changed over the years, the spirit of Ramadan continues to thrive.