Only one day separates us from Ramadan. In Egypt, this means walking down the streets hearing traditional songs welcoming the month of fasting and chants enthusiastically celebrating the holy month that Muslims await every year.
The streets are decorated with lights and colourful lanterns. People greet each other with smiles and wait for any interaction between them to say kul sena wa enta tayeb (used during the holy month to mean “Happy Ramadan”).
Despite people’s excitement, these sweet positive vibes do not entirely erase the difficulties people have to deal with while waiting for the holy month to knock on their doors. Welcoming Ramadan in Egypt also means overcrowded streets, and markets and supermarkets full of people jostling for space. This means spending double the usual amount of time on the road or in the streets.
When it comes to shopping, families usually approach food shopping as if it’s their last month on Earth. Dried dates and fruits are popular at this time of year, as Muslims traditionally break their fasting by eating them.
For a month that is known for huge family banquets and for a society that is known to judge someone’s generosity upon the amount of food he serves at his table, food commodities have been flying out of the supermarkets like lightning. People have been finding empty shelves at stores over the past couple of days.
The increasing prices have people shocked, with many buying unnecessary quantities of products even if they are in fact traditional or seasonal. The lanterns market was one of those affected markets.
Despite these lanterns being one of Egypt’s most famous heritages in Ramadan, the increased prices have led many to seek alternative festive lighting for the holy month, such as buying Egyptian- ones or not buying any at all.
Of course, none of this has stopped Egyptians from feeling the joy of Ramadan and anticipating the holy month.
All photos taken by Mohammed Omar