Nayanthara Salim lists down 5 ways to make the most of Ramadan in Bahrain.
1. Visit the Al Fateh Grand Mosque: Named after Ahmed Al Fateh, and one of the largest mosques in the world, this 6,500 square feet beauty can hold up to 7,000 worshippers at a time. Hosting the world’s largest fiberglass dome along with Italian marbles, Australian chandeliers, and Indian teak wood, the architectural components aren’t the only culturally symbiotic aspect of this stunning place of worship. People of all faiths are welcome here, and frequently conducted tours are available in a variety of languages. The Ahmed Al Fateh Islamic Centre is also home to the National Library of Bahrain and is a treasure trove of history. The library holds around 7,000 books, some of which are over a century old. You will find some of the earliest printed copies of books containing the teachings of Prophet Muhammad, the Global Arabic Encyclopedia, etc. This Ramadan, enrich your stay in Bahrain by paying this multifaceted marvel a visit. The mosque is easily spotted, and there is plenty of parking space available.
WHERE: Al Fatih Highway, Juffair
WHEN: 9 am to 2 pm on all days, on Fridays the mosque is closed to non-Muslims.
2. Partake in the time-honored cultural practices: Majlis is an integral part of Arab and Bedouin culture. Traditionally it is a sitting space where elders and the younger generations interact with each other, where communities gather to discuss local events, socialize, exchange news, and pass on age-old folk heritage. While the practice hasn’t faced extinction, Ramadan reignites it in full vigor, with the government and cultural centers setting up majlises all over the island, to enable people to break their fast with their fellow brethren. Visit one this Ramadan, to witness and perceive the beauty of a community becoming one in their gratitude for the meal in front of them. The mini-globe nature of Bahrain enables you to be around people from a multitude of communities from all around the world and provides you with an avenue for a cultural exchange of epic magnitudes.
WHERE: Visit Bahrain.bh or download the Islamiyat App, and find the majlis closest to you
3. Attend Iftars: Iftar is the meal with which Muslims break their fast. Different cultures perceive the meal differently, but they all have one thing in common – they are DELICIOUS! Families and commercial avenues alike bring in their A-Game for Iftar meals or feasts. Savor the centuries-old recipes handed down over generations, and marvel at the cooks with a taste for improvisation as they bring you their fusion creations. As with majlises, Bahrain is a gateway to flavors from around the globe. The most awe-inspiring fact about iftars is that it is prepared by the believers while fasting, without being able to taste the dishes. Both the talent in the hands of the cook, and the discipline they are able to exercise, are commendable. Enjoy it, and don’t forget to appreciate it!
WHERE: Friends’/Colleagues’/Neighbors’ houses, restaurants, and hotels all over the country
4. Be Charitable: For Muslims, Ramadan is the time to donate beyond the mandated Zakat. It is always a good time to donate to charity. Use this occasion to donate food or clothes to the underprivileged, or toys and books to kids. Mosques and cultural organizations organizing majlises would benefit from your aid in holding iftars or the later meals. There are also charity organizations doing commendable work in Bahrain. Feed the Need, Bahrain Cancer Society, Bahrain Red Crescent, Migrant Workers Protection Society, and BSPCA are a few you could consider.
5. Celebrate Gergaoun: In GCC the 14th or 15th day of Ramadan is referred to as Gergaoun. Its when kids don traditional clothes and head out to collect nuts, coins, and sweets while singing traditional songs and making merry. Malls and supermarkets around Bahrain are decorated to mark this occasion, and some also hold events to celebrate Gergaoun. There will be various activities and street art staged at public spaces like parks and beaches, where your children can take part in the festivities particular to this region.