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Reviving the spirit of Ramadan in Albania

Monday 27/May/2019 - 09:58 AM
Sada El Balad
edited by: Rehab Sayed
Albania، a predominantly-Muslim country in eastern Europe، is seeing a revival of Ramadan traditions after nearly 50 years of life under communism.

Until the start of the 20th century، the nation was under Ottoman rule for 400 years، but from from 1946 to 1992 Albania was isolated from the world. Under the communist leadership of Enver Hoxha، organised religion was banned.

"I remember my mother and father fasting secretly. When they woke up for 'Sahurs'، they had to keep the lights off so that nobody could see them،" Kujtim Dervishi، the principal at the Haxhi Sheh Shamia school، explains.

"They had to close all the curtains and light candles inside our house. There was so much pressure and it was forbidden. They would humiliate you in the middle of public squares if they found out you were fasting. When kids went to school، they were forced to drink water to break the fast. But since the fall of communism، many things changed."
For centuries، the members of the Roma Muslim community، which dates back to the Ottoman empire، have been announcing the start and end of fasting with traditional songs. Every day for the month of Ramadan، these people will march up and down the streets playing a lodra، a homemade double-ended cylinder drum covered in sheep or goat skin. Muslim families will often invite them inside their homes to play traditional ballads to celebrate the start of iftar.


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