Beloved Ramadan Traditions Fall Victim to Iraq's Dangers

October 22, 2006

Author: Amit R. Paley

Source: The Washington Post

Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, is drawing to a close. But for many Iraqis, it never really began. One by one, 1,000-year-old rituals have fallen by the wayside this year, lost to the sectarian violence that has paralyzed this city.

There was majinah , an Iraqi version of trick-or-treat. Cloistered in their homes this year, most children were too scared to play the ancient game.

And the damams , drummers who serve as human alarm clocks, waking the neighborhood for a meal before the day-long Ramadan fast begins. The streets are no longer safe for them, either.

And mehebbes , the Iraqi national pastime played only during the holy month, in which two neighborhood teams compete long past midnight to divine the location of a tiny ring. Most matches were canceled because of a four-month-old curfew.