Despite crowding concerns, thousands delight in Garangao at Katara

All photos by Reem Saad

A Katara Cultural Village resplendent in green, yellow and purple lights last night was thronged by thousands of children and adults to celebrate the traditional festival of Garangao.

Observed on the 14th night of Ramadan, the celebration entails children dressing up, singing traditional songs and going out to collect piles of nuts and sweets.

Last night, excited kids could be seen eagerly running around Katara with cloth bags, amassing sweets at multiple stations and outstretching their arms for more candy.

Garangao 2016

Reem Saad / Doha News

Garangao 2016

Qatari women dressed in traditional jalabiyas and batoolas staffed the stations and distributed bowls of candy, nuts and chocolate to dozens of children at once, emptying the baskets in a matter of seconds.

Most girls were dressed in embroidered kaftans and jalabiyas matched with gold neck and head pieces, while boys wore white thobes with gold lining, topped with ghutras on their heads.

Poor organization

Though many enjoyed the night, a large number of parents and children expressed frustration at what appeared to be a lack of organization and crowd management this year.

For one, the program started late, leaving many families crowded outside Katara for nearly an hour in the heat.

Garangao 2016

Reem Saad / Doha News

Garangao 2016

Additionally, many said that the organizers did not seem prepared for such a large turnout.

Speaking to Doha News, Souad Mohammed, a Lebanese expat said that the event could have been planned better.

“I’ve been here since 8pm and all I saw so far was the distribution (of nuts and candy). There are way too many people here and not enough direction in terms of where to go next and what else there is. But all in all my child is happy to have gotten some candy.”

Meanwhile, organizers and visitors could also be seen arguing in front of the amphitheater entrances as children attempted to enter closed-off areas. Security guards ran around trying to keep children from coming in.

“This also happened last year,” one of the organizers told Doha News.

“Our other events are much more controlled than this. For example, when the singer Assaf came a month ago, the event was much smoother. That is because we were dealing with adults. Kids on the other hand are very difficult to deal with.”

Big crowds also turned out for Garangao celebrations at Souq Waqif, the Aspire Zone and the Pearl-Qatar last night, as well as Qatar Foundation’s Al Shaqab over the weekend. Ezdan Mall will mark Garangao on June 24.

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