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Muslim Children look forward to Qaranqasho

( This article was published in Oman Daily Observer, Oman's most prestigious Newspapers.The article is reproduced with the permission of the author )
By Hasan Kamoonpuri


Muslim children are not required to fast until they reach the age of maturity. However, in many families, younger children enjoy participating and are encouraged to practice their fasting. It is common for a younger child to fast for part of a day, or for one day on Fridays.

Observing a child's first Ramadhan fast is a special event that families around the world celebrate with time-honoured customs. The family centres activities around the child, especially during parties and celebrations held at the end of the fasting day.

At such events, all of the child's family and friends gather together to help the youngster get through the first day-long fast. And although they begin preparing the boys and girls several days in advance, it is the child who decides when he or she is ready to fast. Children aren't forced to fast. They do it when they feel properly ready, and on top of this, the knowledge that there will be a special party just for them is extra motivation.
For grown-up children, who complete their first 14 days of fasting, a special celebration called Qaranqasho is held throughout Oman. Each year Qaranqasho is celebrated on the 14th day of Ramadhan, which falls on August 25 this year.

Hotel, banks, auto showrooms, charity organisations and families throughout Oman hold events to felicitate children who undertook fasting.
Qaranqasho events generally receive a huge response from children, and their parents. Parents are delighted to be a part of these festivities because it encourages their children to perform fasting as a proactive activity.

Qaranqasho shows are a huge success and prove to be a favourite for not just the children but all family members with activities including henna, face painting, balloon art, clown activities, giveaways and a talk on the spiritual, physical, psychological, and social growth and maturity from fasting.

Each Qaranqasho event is different in terms of activities interesting contests, distribution of gifts, various other games and opportunities that give leadership roles to children.

For the children who are begun fasting for the first time, special events are organised at homes, mosques and social clubs. At these events, guests bring gifts for the child and boost his/her morale.

Qaranqasho celebrations are aimed at appreciating and encouraging children who undertake fasting.

Al Noor Hall in Madinat Sultan Qaboos is all set to host a Qaranqasho event on August 26. Many similar events set for August 25 in different parts of the country will attract a huge turnout of children along with their families.

A common question asked on these occasions is should younger children fast during Ramadhan? Indeed they can, although fasting is not obligatory for them. In fact, many children even as young as five are encouraged to fast for a few hours a day during Ramadhan to begin to appreciate the significance of the month. As they get a little older, most families encourage their children under 12 to fast for half a day, until they enter adulthood, when all Muslim children are expected to fast for the full dawn to dusk period.

Through fasting and Salah (five times daily prayer), the children learn that this is programming for being steady on the path of righteousness and obedience to the commandments of Allah the Most Exalted and Glorified.

In some Qaranqasho contests, children are asked to write one or two benefits of fasting such as taqwa (God-consciousness), self-control, self-awareness, patience, charity, kindness, empathy with the needy and oppressed people, sincerity, forgiveness, blessings, cohesion in society, and a better understanding of the Glorious Quran.

Children are also told about what is Fasting? Islamic fasting is refraining from eating, drinking, smoking, conjugal relations and all bad thoughts, sights and sounds from dawn to sunset during the month. This is a training and programming so that one develops self-restraint, will power, resolve and understanding to refrain from activities not amenable with Islam and thus shut the door to all temptations and evil things.

Just as abstaining from food and drinks is a must, fasting also involves abstaining from evil intentions and desires. It is hoped organisers will make their Qaranqasho celebrations more lively, meaningful and significant by including a talk and quiz on Ramadhan fasting for children.

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