Ramadan 2000


Home Up Ramadan Panorama

Ramadan at Ouahigouya, Burkina Faso, West Africa

Ramadan is a Muslim holiday celebrated with 30 days of fasting (Karem), during which time anyone who can manage it goes without food or water from before sunrise until sunset. Ramadan falls at different times of the calendar year, depending on the Muslim calendar based on the cycles of the moon. Ramadan ends with a day of prayer that follows the night the moon can first be seen after the new moon. In some other parts of the world, this day is also called Eid Al-Fitr. 

Approximately sixty days after Ramadan, an even more important holiday, Tabaski, is celebrated (See the photo below). An official Burkina Faso government holiday, this two-day celebration is the most festive and important holiday of the year for many Muslims. On this day, celebrants slaughter a sheep to commemorate the biblical story of Abraham, who was on the verge of sacrificing his son to obey God's command when God interceded by substituting a ram in the child's place. Today, the sacrificed animal is divided into thirds and given equally to family, friends, and the poor. After several hours at a mosque, celebrants usually gather for large meals and visit with friends. Tabaski is known in other Muslim regions by different names, including Eid al-Adha (Celebration of Sacrifice) and Eid al-Kabir (The Great Celebration).  (Thanks to the Ouaga Kibé, publication of the American Embassy in Ouagadougou for the description of Tabaski.)

Ramadan was celebrated in January 2000. For more information and suggested websites on Ramadan or Tabaski, look at the student activity on Islam.

In Ouahigouya, many people are Muslim. For Ramadan and Tabaski, people gather at two gathering places, including La Place de la Revolution, near the center of town, to go through a series of prayers in unison. I was invited by several friends to watch the brief ceremony for Ramadan. To my surprise, they encouraged me to take pictures. It was an amazing image. Capturing the scene adequately in photos is not possible in two dimensions. There are some pictures below, as well as a 180-degree panorama picture. I tried to be inconspicuous, but many people stopped to shake my hand and wish me well, especially after I wished them a happy holiday in Mooré (Ne ed taabo).



Click on a thumbnail image to see the larger photo.

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The front of the parade ground (La Place de la Revolution) in Ouahigouya is the central gathering spot for hundreds of the town's Muslim citizens at Ramadan. The men place their prayer mats at the front of the area and the women in the back. Children also participate.


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Check out the panorama picture of Ramadan 2000... (it may take a while to load)



Some faces of Ramadan...

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<Some of the beautiful children at the Ramadan celebration in Ouahigouya.

January 2000

My tailor, OUEDRAOGO Hamidou
(guess which outfit) attends the Ramadan celebration in Ouahigouya. He knew about my camera and asked me to take this picture.>

January 2000

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<The lovely woman in the middle of the photo, the aunt of one of my students, invited me to take her picture at the Ramadan celebration in Ouahigouya. The young girl is holding prayer mats.

January 2000

One of these four girls didn't want her picture taken, so she hid under her veil. But after she saw the first picture on the digital camera, she asked me to take another.>

January 2000


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Unfortunately, I don't have many pictures of Tabaski. In Ouahigouya, Tabaski involves a shorter prayer session than for Ramadan followed by a celebration even greater than for Ramadan. Any family who can afford it slaughters a sheep, which is then prepared by the women in the family. The family shares the prepared "mouton" with everyone they know, including family, friends and the poor. All day long, one can see children running or bicycling back and forth in town delivering food from one family to another. The generosity in this desperately poor country is overwhelming.


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All photos and essays are copyright Cathy Seeley. All rights reserved. No photo or text may be reproduced without permission except for small group educational purposes (thanks for giving appropriate credit). 
For other uses, please contact Cathy Seeley.


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