All photos by Chantelle D’mello
This year, Qatar has relocated one of the traditional Ramadan cannons that go off to signify the breaking of the fast each day.
For the past few years, residents have been gathering at the Qatar General Post Office parking lot in West Bay to witness the firing of the canon, but the machine is now at the Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab Mosque (state mosque), near TV Roundabout.
Yesterday, vehicles that showed up at the post office were redirected to the mosque’s parking lot by a map posted on fences at the old site.
Why the cannon has been moved remains unclear.
Speaking to Doha News, one officer said that orders to move the cannon were passed down from his superiors, and that no explanation had been provided.
Despite the change in location, residents turned up in throngs to witness the famed firing, and to mark the end of the day’s fasting.
Across town, a similar scene was taking place in the Old Airport area, with the firing of another cannon signaling that it was time to eat.
Onlookers began gathering at the state mosque around 5:45pm, about 45 minutes before sunset. Thrilled children climbed onto the cannon and posed for pictures. Some even managed to score an empty flare gun from one of the officers at the scene.
Film and radio crews were also present to record the cannon blast.
Officers fired a preliminary flare around 15 minutes before the call for sunset prayer, while police officers at the scene distributed water and meal packs to children and workers.
Once the cannon was fired, most residents retreated to the cars, eager to head home to break their fast with their families.
The artillery officers, on the other hand, remained at the scene. Crouched in the shade of their trucks, they drank water and ate dates after a long day of fasting, offering some food to people who remained behind.
While the actual firing of the cannon only lasted a second, the feeling of community – that of gathering together, sharing food and helping the less fortunate – resonated long after the smoke had settled and the sun had gone down.
Have you seen a Ramadan cannon in action? Thoughts?