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Ramadan Cultural Panorama in Cairo

Islam Online (UK) , November 9, 2004


The telling of folktales was a main source of entertainment and pastime in the Arab world.

In Egypt , Ramadan is not only a month of religious devotion, but also a festive occasion; and every year, millions of Egyptians wait for all the entertainment and cultural activities that are associated with this month. While many families spend the time after iftar (breaking the fast) at home around the small screen, watching the huge amount of soap operas and entertainment programs, others prefer to spend the evenings outdoors, and enjoy the different cultural programs that are performed during this month.

Every year, the Egyptian Cultural Development Fund and all independent cultural centers have a rich agenda prepared for the month of Ramadan, which includes storytelling music concerts, Sufi dancing, exhibitions, and much more.

This year, I watched two storytelling performances in the Gezirah and Hanager arts centers. A particularly captivating show was Hakawy El Haramlek performed by El Misaharati troupe and directed by Abeer Aly. In Hakawy El Haramlek, a folktale about a man (Ibrahim) and a woman (Nour) is juxtaposed with several contemporary stories from our homes that mostly reflect the defective relationship between the man and woman, and also well selected songs that go along with the story tellers’ monologues or dialogues. The reason why I believe this is a very unique story telling show is not only because of how hilarious, and at the same time insightful, it is, but rather because of the way it mixes Arab folktale with contemporary events and stories in its projection of certain aspects of our society; thus increasing the relevance and value of the storytelling.

Subjects Covered: storytelling festivals

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