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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.”

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فعاليات متنوعة و أنشطة رائعة تشهدها اللؤلؤة-قطر باحتفال ليلة القرنقعوه في سوق المدينة بمدينا سنترال انضموا إلينا للمشاركة في هذه الأنشطة و الفعاليات المستمرة لغاية الساعة ١٢ ليلاً Various traditional, fun and entertaining activities happening now in Garangao night celebration at Souq Al Medina, Medina Centrale. Join us and be part of these activities until 12pm. #Garangao #ramadan #ramadan2016 #kids #fun #entertainment #activities #photooftheday #tpqmoments #thepearlqatar #doha #qatar #رمضان #الدوحة #قطر #قرنقعوه #رمضان_كريم

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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.


More Ramadan coverage:

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Shafallah Center

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Vodafone Logo_200x200-01 This Ramadan guide is presented by Vodafone Qatar.

Lights, camera, candy!

Across Qatar, several venues are preparing to mark Garangao, an annual celebration for children that includes singing traditional songs, wearing fancy outfits and collecting lots of nuts and sweets.

The festival, celebrated across the GCC on the 14th night of Ramadan, is kind of like a Khaleeji version of Halloween, minus the pagan and Christian connotations.

The name varies by country, and itself originates from the word “Gara,” which represents the sound that bagfuls of candy and nuts bumping against each other make as children knock on doors.

Ramadan decorations at Katara

Omar Chatriwala

Ramadan decorations at Katara

Some believe the festivities celebrate the mid-point of Ramadan. Um Khalaf, a famed local storyteller, said the night traditionally served as a reward for children who memorized 15 chapters of the Qur’an.

In the past, Garangao used to be celebrated by children who dressed up in traditional dresses and robes, carried bags around their necks, knocked on doors and sang a special song to get candy.

Now, many places around Qatar are offering a chance for the public to gather together to celebrate the occasion.

Most of these events take place on Sunday, June 19, but there are some exceptions. Here’s the lowdown on five celebrations around town:

Al Shaqab & Qatar Foundation

This year, Qatar Foundation is working with its member, Reach Out to Asia, to bring a traditional night to Al Shaqab’s grounds on Friday, June 17, from 7:30pm to midnight.

QF Garangao


QF Garangao

Children’s activities will include storytelling, henna and pony rides, as well as sack races and hopscotch. Kids will also be able to make bookmarks, ride smoothie bicycles, build solar-powered lanterns and check out virtual reality games.

Funds from some of the games will be donated to ROTA’s charity works across the region. Gifts and prizes will also be available for the children.


Katara Cultural Village will host a “scavenger hunt” for children on Sunday, June 19 from 8pm to 11pm for kids to find Garangao gifts near the amphitheater area.

Garangao 2015

Chantelle D'mello

Garangao 2015

Children will be lined up to start at one location and walk through Katara from one gift collection point to another.

There will be various events happening at each collection point, and refreshments will be offered.

Aspire Zone

Also on Sunday, June 19, Freej Aspire will celebrate Garangao with a special storytelling session, a short film screening, singing traditional songs and a distribution of Garangao gifts.

This will take place from 9:30pm to 11:30pm.

Garangao 2015

Chantelle D'mello

Garangao 2015

Freej will continue to offer various other activities such as basketball, volleyball, arts booth, henna corner, and a kids playground with traditional games for the night to celebrate Garangao.

These will be available starting 9pm.

The Pearl-Qatar

United Development Company will host a night of stories and Qur’an readings on the Pearl at a traditional tent setting at Souq Al Medina in Medina Centrale’s indoor arena on Sunday, June 19 from 9pm to midnight.

Attendees will also be able to make use of the henna corners, face painting stations, inflatable slides and bouncing castles. Snacks and treats will be on offer.

Garangao photo for illustrative purposes only.

Samrah Shahid/Flickr

Garangao photo for illustrative purposes only.

Children will also have the chance to go around various restaurants in Medina Centrale to receive Garangao goodie bags, accompanied by a Musaher, the traditional suhoor drummer.

Ezdan Mall

The mall is celebrating Garangao next week on Friday, June 24 from 8pm to 11pm on the basement floor, near Vodafone’s store.

But it is also hosting various events such as cooking classes, planting workshops and storytelling from Friday, June 17 to July 1.

How do you plan to celebrate Garangao? Thoughts?

More Ramadan coverage

All photos by Chantelle D’mello

Thousands of children and adults gathered at the Katara amphitheatre to celebrate the traditional festival of Garangao last night, in a joyous celebration of the 14th day of Ramadan.

Scores of excited children gathered at the esplanade and picked up their cloth bags before circling the interior of the amphitheatre to collect what appeared to be in some cases almost a year’s supply of sweets and nuts.

Garangao 2015

Chantelle D'mello

Garangao 2015

Most were dressed in traditional Garangao attire – gold-colored head and neckpieces, veils and richly embroidered caftans and skirts for the girls, and white thobes with gold lining, miniature bishts, and crisp ghutras for the boys.

Accompanied by their families, the children amassed at several candy stations staffed by Qatari women around the perimeter of the amphitheatre interior.

Dressed in colourful jalabiyas, batulas and niqabs, the women distributed bowls of nuts, candy and chocolates to the children’s outstretched arms and overflowing bags from straw bushels, stopping only to refill the baskets with more goodies.

Traditional garangao songs were played on a loudspeaker, while children sang along in loud voices as they ran from station to station.

Many were stopped by curious spectators, tourists and local television channels eager to photograph their vibrant costumes and capture their smiles. Others, exhausted from the day’s celebrations, remained fast asleep in the arms of the mothers or in their strollers, still clutching bags of candy.

When Doha News visited, several expats and their children could also be seen participating in the events.

“This is our first time celebrating Garangao, and though it is traditionally an Arab event, we wanted to try it out. We were surprised to see other expats also participating … there were even some adults! It’s a great experience, and you can feel how happy all the children are to dress up and collect candy,” said a British mother of two who was participating in the evening’s events.

Garangao celebrations were also held last night at Aspire. Earlier in the week, the Qatar National Library and Qatar Foundation hosted activities at Al Shaqab Stadium.

Though immensely popular, the exact origins of the term “Garangao” and the reason behind the tradition remain a matter of debate.

Some believe the onomatopoeic term is an allusion to the rumbling of sweets and nuts in large traditional baskets, while others say it hails from the sound made by clanging of stones. According to famed local storyteller Um Khalaf, the event may have originated as a sort of celebratory reward for young boys and girls who memorize 15 chapters of the Qu’ran.

While known by different names across the GCC – Garangao or Garangaou in Qatar and Bahrain, Karkee’aan or Qariqaan in Saudi Arabia, Gargee’aan in Kuwait, Garangashoch, At-Tablah or Qarnakosh in Oman and Hag Al Leylah in UAE – the essence of the celebration remains the same throughout the region.