An Emirati Tradition: Hag Elayleh

July 15, 2011 § 6 Comments

Since we were kids we waited eagerly for the month of Ramadan to come, part was to show our parents we grew up and we can fast the whole day but mostly was because working days are shorter and we would finish school earlier, get back home and play with our neighbors. But there also was a day we waited for every year where we could eat all the candy we want without our parents yelling at us. In the Islamic calendar “Shab’an” precedes the month of Ramadan, its a holy month too where people prepare for the coming fasting days, and on the 15th is the eve of “Hag Elayleh” (haG-el-lay-leh). It’s today!!!!

On this day the women would buy lots of candy, fill baskets and wait for the kids of the neighborhood to come dressed in fancy traditional colorful clothes with sacks hanging around their necks filled with candy and knock on the doors singing “atoona hag elayleh, atoona Allah ya’ateekom, bait makkah eywadeekom” which translates to “give us for the holy night, give us may God give you more and grant you a trip to Makkah” and the women would fill their sacks with more candy and sometimes even money.

All the Gulf countries do celebrate the day, each name it differently but still it got kids, candy and chanting.

As we grew up and Dubai grew with us, traditions became different, I don’t know if its our fault but we let them kind of fade. The world has changed and for me the Urban life is getting harder and more superficial to live. Sometimes I wish I can travel back in time and live in the simple life of the past.

This year it had slipped my mind and I regret it, I wish I prepared for it and made some traditional clothes for my daughter and sacks to send out candy for the kids of the family. Ya we stopped sending our kids out to fetch their candy we’d rather have them safe at home and send out candy to others, plus we all live so far away from each other that you rarely find clusters of locals (who actually know each other) living next to each other.
That’s my point of view and if any other locals still do it the old way, I salute you.

Here’s a video of the traditional “Hag Ellayleh” courtesy of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority click here to see it.

Fatma

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