Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Fine and Ramadandy

Friday was the 'fete' - ie holiday - for the end of Ramadan. Until the last minute there was uncertainty as to whether it would fall on Thursday or Friday, because it links to a lunar cycle and depends on the new moon. So people were eagerly watching the news on Wednesday evening to find out. No news, no holiday, off to work on Thursday (just as well for those with a flood to clear up after!) And so Friday was the holiday - a national holiday and day off for people with regular jobs, regardless of their religion.

During Ramadan some but by no means all of the muslims observe a dawn to dusk fast - getting up early to eat before it gets light and then not eating or drinking again until after sundown. After a while during Ramadan the effects begin to tell; people are tired and shorter-tempered than usual.

Chicken appears to be the traditional dish on this occasion - the chicken market opposite where I work was heaving all week, and the streets were full of people with a couple of chickens (still live I fear) hanging from the handlebars of their motos or pushbikes.

For the holiday, people get dressed up, and traditionally children have a new or at least better than usual outfit. There is lots of parading around in smart clothes; I spent part of the morning watching the traffic in the street with most people dressed up smart, often in the 'basins' (pronounced as if spelled bazzins) which are the traditional fabric for celebration around here. Its a self-patterned fabric, traditionally dyed, and then made up with lots of embroidery.

I was lucky enough to get several invites, and had some delicious chicken and other bits and pieces - even went out to a 'maquis' in the evening which was packed, and too hot and noisy for me really... but have to make the effort sometimes!

Several of the local kids came round to be photographed in their 'tenue de fete'. Very pleased with themselves; new clothes, some in proper shoes (not flip-flops) probably several sizes too big, hair all nicely dressed... and best accesory of all, sunglasses, often worn high on the forehead!

The festive atmosphere continued all day and pretty much all weekend; lots of things were closed, which is unusual, and the town noticeably quieter. On the negative side, there are no avocados to be had anywhere; I think they come from Cote d'Ivoire, where the holiday lasts for a week, and so the supply chain has been interrupted. I thought for a while that the season had come to an end, which would have been bad news indeed, because the avocados here are usually very good and an important part of my diet, but am relieved to hear from those who know that they will be back in a day or too.

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