Today, I want to talk about a special tradition that I grew up watching my mom bring to life in our home – celebrating Ramadan with our neighbours.
Ramadan is a very special time of the year for Muslims all around the world. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, where Muslims all around the world fast from dawn to sunset. In Islam, Ramadan is all about self-control and discipline for the sake of Allah. I personally struggle internally a lot this month and use this time to reflect on these and grow spiritually. Usually, this time of the year, mosques around the world are filled with worshippers standing in prayer into the wee hours of the night.
Another critical piece of Ramadan is charity, giving, and fostering a sense of community and brotherhood with those around us. Growing up in a Muslim country (Pakistan), I grew up watching my mom always sending platters of food to our neighbours to share our meals and inviting family members or going to their houses for iftaar (when Muslims break their fast at sunset). This is a seminal Ramadan tradition that I have had since my first memory of Ramadan. Now that I live in a multicultural country, with people of many religion denominations, I take Ramadan as an opportunity to share my love of Ramadan and Islam with my neighbours. I also want this to be a tradition we pass onto our daughter, and hopefully our future generations. We do other things at home like decorate for Ramadan and give gifts on eid and ramadan too! Some of our favourite Ramadan foods are pakoras!
I took this tradition of celebrating Ramadan with my neighbours with me to Vancouver when I moved there in 2018. I was new to neighbourhood where I was the only Muslim. Given that I did not know all my neighbours very well to know about food/dietary restrictions, I went a slightly non-traditional route i.e. candy. I decided to go this way because everyone loves candy, and there is no doubt about the ingredients in each piece of candy. I also decided to do this for the sake of convenience as a working mom with very little free time on my hands. I picked up these adorable pastel coloured lanterns at my closest Dollarama, as I felt these are nice symbol of what Ramadan is about – sharing our love of Islam with the community. I also picked up a variety of packaged candy that could easily fit into the lantern and stuffed them well.
Next to add a personal touch, I created these little tags and have linked them below for you to download for FREE. I printed them at my nearest stationary store on cardstock and attached them using ribbon to the lantern.
I wanted to involve my daughter in this tradition of sharing and celebrating Ramadan with our new neighbours, now that she is old enough to have some sense of what is going on. We walked to our neighbours’ houses, and I had her hand the neighbours the candy-filled lanterns, after I introduced myself. This was such a good way to also say hi and introduce myself to neighbours who I had seen around, but never formally talked to. I know this can be intimidating for some but let me assure you… it is such a nice feeling to meet a neighbour and know that you are part of the little community you have created by taking the first step.
This Ramadan, I encourage you to share whatever it is you put on your table with your neighbour. Even if it’s something as little as a plate of dates – walk over to their house and tell them about Ramadan. Ramadan is so much more than just abstaining from food and drink. Let’s be part of creating that sense of community where ever we live through sharing this month.
I would love to hear about your Ramadan traditions that you may have in your community! Tell me in the comments below.
Until next time!
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