Some of the most elaborate and colorful festivals are often tied around religion, or religious activities. As it were, such festivals serve as a celebration of faith and a strong reminder of the people’s belief system and convictions. One of such religious festivals is Koriteh also known as the feast after the fast.
While some religious festivals are structured into different phases with various segments shrouded in a certain level of secrecy in regards to specific rituals which are performed away from public glare, others are free, open and with little or no restrictions.
Koriteh: When Ramadan Comes to an End
In the Islamic world, holy month of Ramadan is an important time in which Muslims undergo a 30-day fasting period, where they abstain from food and pleasure between sunrise and sunset (usually 6am – 6pm). However, after the 30 days of sober reflection, supplication to Allah and abstinence comes to an end, it is often celebrated in a one-day festival known as Koriteh.
Koriteh (Eid Al-Fitr) is one the two main Islamic festivals or Eids (feasts) and is regarded as the ‘Small Eid’ in comparison to Eid Al-Kabir (Big Eid).
The end of Ramadan is not just an arithmetic calculation of 30 days, but it is based on the sighting of the new moon. Usually in The Gambia, a predominantly Muslim nation, Koriteh is a big deal as it is in other parts of the Islamic world. Most Gambian men can be decked in their newest kaftans, while the women don their latest Mbubas. The children are not left out as they are dressed in their best clothes.
In the morning, the men head to the mosque for prayers followed by sermon. Since this is not part of the five daily dua (prayers), women are excused and they spend their time preparing the meals. Once the sermon is over, the people go about visiting and celebrating with family and friends. Often, relatives come from the villages to meet their kin in the city.
Alms and various gifts are given to the less privileged and beggars who usually flock to the mosques and Eid grounds. The children also go around the neighborhood in groups, knocking on doors and asking for ‘salibo’ – gifts of money.
Once the prayers are done between 10:00 and 11:00 in the morning, Koriteh becomes less of a religious festival in terms of restrictions. The celebration and festivities center around individual homes, among family and friends. It usually continues all day and carries on through the night.
It is usually a day to look forward to especially among the youths. Many of them organize musical ‘programs’ featuring popular local artistes and DJs which last through the night, while others go partying at the clubs.
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