RIYADH: The Saudi National Museum, as part of its Aroma program aimed at providing a unique and distinctive cultural experience to visitors throughout the year, has launched three programs for Ramadan.
The Crafts and Heritage, Ramadan Nights and Ramadan Market programs continued until April 15.
The Crafts and Heritage program included a rosary-making workshop that spoke about the history and presence of craftsmanship today.
The Nights of Ramadan were an interactive cultural journey where visitors walked through the eight rooms of the museum to discover the history of the Kingdom. The museum also celebrated Gargee’an with a Saudi band playing drums and singing old traditional songs the locals grew up with.
Gargee’an is a centuries-old tradition and a deeply rooted part of the culture in some Gulf countries. It is celebrated with children dressing up in traditional attire and going door to door singing to receive sweets and nuts from neighbours.
Faten Al-Odaili, a mother of four, expressed how grateful she was that the tradition of Gargee’an is not dead. “We always celebrate Gargee’an with our family,” Al-Odaili said. “When we learned about this festival, we rushed to buy traditional floral outfits for our children in the old souks.
“Gargee’an is important for children because it excites them to fast during Ramadan, and my children always ask me about it because it creates a wonderful memory for them as we gather the neighborhood children and give them sweets and gifts while teaching them the songs… it is part of Riyadh tradition,” she said.
The Ramadan Market program, in cooperation with the Social Development Bank, showcased Ramadan-themed products, foods and clothing to support families.
Shoug Al-Hamlan, owner of an event giveaway business, said the bank approached them about participating in the event at the museum.
“We’re a gift company…weddings, baby showers, Gargee’an and any event,” Al-Hamlan said.
“Gargee’an is a beautiful event that takes place in the middle of Ramadan and I think it means a lot to children because they are excited for Ramadan, and it creates fun times at family gatherings.”
Badria Al-Attallah, the owner of Om Issam Heritage, joined the event with her handmade products such as traditional trays and other home decorations made from palm leaves. Al-Attallah’s designs are a blend of modern and heritage styles.
Reminiscing about Gargee’an, Al-Atallah said, “In my time, Gargee’an was called ‘Al-Hawama’…it was the time when you could hear the sewing machines working while our mothers sewed the traditional flower dresses for us, and we used to walk into the ally and knock on doors for sweets and sing songs.
“It’s nice that we still have it so the kids can learn about our old traditions back then, how sewing machines work and how we put henna on our hands.”