"Gurgi'yaan" The Kuwaiti Ramadan Tradition
Mia Ponzo (Um Sa'ud)
November 2, 2001
In the middle of the Holy Month of Ramadan in Kuwait, there is a tradition called Gurgi'yaan. For three days the children get together, get all dressed up in traditional Kuwait garb, boys wearing "dishdashas" (the long Kuwaiti robe), and an embroidered cap and vest, and the girls wearing "buknag" (a long, sheer, gold-embroidered head cover) and traditional "dara'a" (embroidered traditional Kuwaiti long dress), all carrying their "gurgi'yaan" bags (usually cloth bags with embroidery and a long strap, with plenty of room for collecting candy and other sweetmeats) and go around chanting and singing old traditional Kuwaiti songs which are like supplications (prayers) for the residents of the homes they pass by. The idea is that the people come out and give them candy and other treats in order to thank them for their supplications.
For many Kuwaiti households this is the time of making large parties for their children, and the children of the relatives and friends. In these parties you may see clowns, magicians, traditional bands, traditional games and more. For others, attendance at the many locally sponsored parties is enough, and the children all enjoy all this excitement very much, of course! Many households make special "gurgi'yaan" packets for their children, or for the household to give out to the children who come by or come to their party. These special packets could be made with little baskets
The word "gurgi'yaan" comes from the candy that is now included in the mix of candy and nuts that is given out at this time. The "gurgi'yaan" is the candy that is white and bumpy looking with a crunchy garbanzo bean inside.
In the beginning of the times of "gurgi'yaan" there weren't any lights in Kuwait, and the time of "gurgi'yaan" was in the middle of the month when the moon was full, and the boys would dress up in black clothes, the dress of the divers the black pants, the shirt, the cap, which protected them from the sea, and paint their faces black, and go around scaring the children (but that isn't done any more). At this time the streets were full of people going around, and the children would go and pass by the houses and make the "gurgi'yaan" supplication for the inhabitants of every home and collect candy, so even afterwards there were lights everywhere this tradition kept on, and still goes on every year.