Saturday, May 01, 2004

Prophet's Birthday

Today in Libya the Islamic Calendar is 12th Rabi3 alawal , which is Prophet Mohamed's Birthday. Muslims celebrate this date in many parts of the world as it is important. We call it Almawled Alnabawi in Arabic, or Milud in the Libyan vernacular. Usually this occasion is commemorated by holding Koran reading vigils at home and at the mosque, and lighting candles at home. However many Arabic and Islamic states have their differing traditions in this regard, and I will just talk briefly about Libya.

In Libya the eve of the birthday is the 'fun' date, I don't know when exactly did this 'tradition' start but usually teenagers, kids and young people in general have added a twist to the celebrations by playing with all sorts of fireworks. Whilst fireworks are enjoyable for a short period, I could never stop jumping im fright each time I hear the sound. For this all important feast, you will find almost a month in advance kids stocking up on 'ammunition', from crackers , colour fireworks, chinese models, small rockets , and the ones which look like timy dynamite pieces and make really loud boooms! The latter are pretty dangerous as people can loose an eye, get burnt or injured easily. In fact come this season and along with the firecrackers you will hear ambulances rushing to the various hospitals and especially the Hospital for Burns and Plastic Surgery. Every season we have a lot of tragic accidents. Fireworks are illegal, yet people are selling/buying them. The really stupid ones think it is hilarious to through them at the girls on their way home from school, or through the window of a car passing by or which has stopped at a traffic light - try imagining the confusion of driving and trying to reach for that explosive device- makes for a lot of traffic accidents. Another 'bright' idea is to make a bonfire with these crakers and they add metal cans and glass bottles.. now this is way sadistic not to mention seriously dangerous. In the end for those who survive that night on the street, they would have enjoyed themselves thoroughly ( I personnaly don't like it) . It looks and sounds like the 4th of July celebrations in the US, but less regulated and with no safety taken into consideration.

The following day, the Milud is a day off - YES , we usually wake up to the lovely smell of the Asida, a special dough which you eat with olive oil and date syrup. Delicious mixture, you can find the recipe in one of my earlier posts (please scroll below). The whole family gathers around a large napkin ( there are meals which are simply best eaten on the floor like on a picnic - no matter what you think), and we eat it by hand making small pellets and dipping them in the oil and syrup 'sauce' . It is wonderful a real treat. In fact in a couple of hours time, the family will wake up and we shall go to granpa's house where my aunts would have prepared Asida for all the family - well we'll be at least about 25 people .. look forward to it lots of fun with the cousins, catch up on gossip etc.. but really it is simply a social gathering and a family thingy. In Arab cultures, and I think especially in Libya, families and social functions are still very very important.

So this is the Milud, some pray, some play but we always eat a hearty meal!
I better go and catch some sleep before the wee hours.

signing off ;)
PS please excuse typing or spelling errors it's 4:00 am here and I'm practically asleep on my laptop.

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