Ramadan is almost half over, which means that Garangao is just days away.
This festival, traditionally celebrated throughout the Gulf region on the 14th of Ramadan – which is this Saturday – but will be marked in Qatar all week long with events across Doha.
Garangao is all about the kids and a little like Halloween in the West (without the spooky bits).
Children get dressed up in colorful, traditional Qatari clothes, carry a cloth bag and go from house to house, collecting sweets and nuts from their neighbors while singing the Garangao song.
The actual meaning of Garangao is unclear. Some believe the word is onomatopoeic, and comes either from the sound of the nuts and sweets rumbling together in large baskets, or from the sound of clanging stones.
According to Qatari storyteller Umm Khalaf, who appears in a Doha Film Institute short film about the traditional event, it was in the past a celebration for children to congratulate them on memorizing 15 chapters of the Qur’an.
While children can still be spotted visiting their neighbors in some parts of town, there are also celebrations held throughout Doha where everyone can take part and mark the mid-point of Ramadan.
These are usually fun, child-centered, public and free events, full of color and a great atmosphere.
Here’s a quick list of what’s going on, which we’ll keep updated as more events come in:
Wednesday, July 9
Ezdan Mall, Al Gharafa: Starting at 8:30pm, children can pick up a bag in front of Vodafone on the ground floor, and then tour shops to collect their sweets. Other events for children include traditional songs and arts and crafts workshops throughout the evening.
Thursday, July 10
Al Shaqab indoor arena: Qatar Foundation has said it expects thousands of families to attend its Garangao event, which runs from 9pm until midnight.
Children will be treated to storytelling, henna and face painting. Pony rides will evoke a sense of nostalgia for yesteryear, as will games such as “sabbeh” (a square game played in the sand), “dahouri” (wheel pushing), “tileh” (marbles) and “gaiss” (hopscotch).
There will also be a souq that samples traditional Qatari dishes, including haris, luqaimat, khanfaroush and jarish.
Friday, July 11
Al Riwaq Building, Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) Park, Corniche: Organized by the National Museum of Qatar, this third annual Garangao event will hold activities especially for children ages 3 to 11 years old from 8:30pm to midnight.
Kids can design and decorate their own Garangao bag using different materials. They can also make their own lunar scopes to view the moon on Garangao night and throughout Ramadan, learning about the moon phases and their link to the lunar calendar.
There will also be a chance to create a mixed media art wall using words from a traditional Garangao song, and to make simple pieces of modern accessories, inspired by paintings of Qatari jewelry.
Other activities will include a Garangao puppet show, traditional Qatari games with prizes, authentic Qatari food and Brazilian sweets.
Garangao Village (Fan Zone), Al Waab: Organized by Aspire Zone Foundation, family festivities will take place in an air-conditioned, open-air venue in Al Waab from 9pm-midnight. A link to the site is here.
There will be games, sports, performances and family activities and entertainment throughout the evening.
Saturday, July 12
Katara: Starting from 7pm, children can wander through the alleyways of Katara, led by storytellers, while collecting sweets along the way.
In front of the amphitheater and at the beach, there will be family activities including a children’s library and reading panels, as well as traditional food and handicrafts. There will also be a children’s play at Katara Opera House.
From 8pm, Katara Building 12 will be the location for fun children’s activities, including face painting, traditional henna art, giveaways and a special-effects green screen experience.
Also at Katara, the Doha Film Institute and Education Above All will have a special free screening of Pascal Plission’s documentary “On the Way to School” at 10pm in the Katara Drama Theatre. The touching and inspiring film follows children from Argentina, India, Kenya and Morocco and the heroic lengths they go to in order to get to school.
Brazil 2014 Fan Zone, Katara: The theme for the night is Qatari and Arabian Gulf culture and customs, and guests are asked to wear traditional Qatari clothing.
Garangao will be celebrated before the screening of the 3rd and 4th place World Cup playoffs with family entertainment throughout the evening. Doors open from 9pm but access to the Fan Zone is by ticket only. These are free but restricted and available on a first-come, first-served basis on the day of from the nearby Exhibition Center.
The Gate mall, West Bay: Running from now until the last day of Eid, The Gate will host children’s activities and events in its Family Fun Zone, in the multi-purpose hall on the first floor from 8pm-1am.
There will be a bouncy castle, gaming stations and arts and crafts, including ceramics painting.
Table tennis tables for adults are provided by Qatar Table Tennis Association and there are also refreshments and snacks.
On July 12, a storyteller will relate the original tale of Garangao.
Other locations expected to have Garangao celebrations and to host children’s entertainment and activities include the Pearl Qatar and Qatar’s key shopping malls including Lagoona, Hyatt Plaza, City Center, Villaggio and Landmark.
Please let us know if we’ve missed any events, so we can keep the list up-to-date. Thoughts?