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Ashura in Burkina Faso and their Muharram customs
Ashura in Burkina Faso and their Muharram customs

We were curious about what Muslims did in Burkina Faso at Ashura.  The information we obtained from local friends was really interesting for us.

World Bulletin / News Desk

In our country ashura is a time of pain and also treat and joy.  There would be nobody in Turkey who has not tried the food ashura.  Is there anybody who dislikes it, I do not know?  Hence it is undebatable that it is a food specific for us.  Although we relate it to the arc of Noah (Pbuh) and the lack of food on it, it is a local and cultural element.

We were curious about what moslems in Burkina Faso did at ashura.  The information we obtained from our local friends was really interesting for us.  Certainly they do not eat boilers of ashura like us.

Let us have a look at it together :

The food which is kept for very special days: Rice

There must be a small piece left for today from the sacrifice from the feast of the Sacrifice.  It is possible that even if there is nothing left , there would be at least the legs or skin preserved under local facilities.  For in this geography the skin of the animal is specially cleaned and dried and eaten later.  From this piece which is left over, food is made and eaten on days like this.

A lot of food must be eaten on days like this.  For Africa who knows how to get by with so little, it is very strange to eat extra food on ashura.  For they believe that angels will come at night to weigh people and then write for them pious deeds as per their weight.  It is not necessary for you to criticize this.  For even the friend who gave us this information did not neglect from saying that 'These are superstition.  However it is believed like this from old times.'

They especially eat rice from the 9th day of Muharram until the end of Muharram.  There is little rice grown in the villages.  It is a precious food.  It is not eaten all the time.  For the respect of this month rice is eaten and offered.  The reason not being that rice is holy but rather because it is valuable.  It is a precious food kept aside for very special days...

Jokes with water are common

There are special duels and verbal harassment amongst tribes.  These duels continue until the end of the month of Muharram.  The most important factor in these duels is to never get angry.  Every tribe will verbally annoy another one and they must be patient or answer back.  In this matter there is no fighting or holding grudges...  I do not know if the Africans have conceived it like this when it is the Haram month...  This custom reminds me of the verbal  duels of our Lover musicians.

It is not only verbal as there are duels with water as well.  Most people keep some water at home or close by and throw the water on one of their friends as a joke.  It is also meaningful that in a place where water is so scarce it is used in this manner for joking.  They can hardly find it for drinking.  However they must find it for the ashura joke.  Although i have not found concrete information about this custom, I am guessing that it is to do with how Huseyin (Pbuh) was martyred with no water available to him.  The friends at school warned us: 'If you see the students conducting this joke do not be angry with them, for even if a young man does this joke to an old grandfather, nobody can get angry with him.'  I also prepared a glass of water by my side.  You never know what can happen...  However the most interesting information is as follows: This custom is common amongst the Christian locals as well.  Who effected who, who sold the idea to who I do not know.

It is understood the month is the same, however the local customs and methods of celebrations are different.  However the most beautiful thing is ( we say as a respect for the Haram month ) that they have perceived this without anger or quarreling.  If only all the world of Islam could greet the month of Muharram in this manner.

Hasim Akin



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