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My memories of Moulood

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My memories of Moulood

by Nurene Jassiem
05 Apr 2007
Peoples Post
Peoples Post

Over the next few weeks mosques across Cape Town will be infused with sweet citrus scents as Muslims celebrate Moulood-an-Nabi, the birth of the Prophet Mohammed (Peace and Blessings be upon him).


My first memories of these celebrations are of when my mother dressed my cousin and me in fancy dresses and beaded scarves so that we could accompany my late grandmother to a mosque in Lentegeur, Mitchell's Plain to cut rumpies.

I remember excitedly taking my little heart-shaped wooden board and knife to the mosque where little girls and old women busily cut orange leaves before the elders infused the cut leaves with other citrus scents.

Later that evening, or on the 12th night of the Islamic calendar month of Rabi-ul-Awal, we would go to the mosque and recite salutations upon the holy Prophet and listen to a lecture by the local imam.

My favourite part always came near the end of the evening when other children would come around and hand out packets of rumpies wrapped in paper of some sort and prinkle "rose water" on my new or almost-new handkerchief. The rose water is also mixed with other oils and if you put the wet handkerchief in your cupboard your clothes will smell sweet and fresh.

At some mosques, such as the one I practically grew up in in Bo-Kaap, the mosque committees make barakats or take-aways to give to people on Moulood.

These boxes are usually filled with all sorts of tarts and traditional biscuits, ranging from Mary-Annes (aniseed biscuits with hundreds and thousands) and coconut tarts to karamong scraps (cardamom biscuits) and twee gevrietjies (pink and chocolate iced biscuit cups with coconut centres). It was almost a given that in the weeks to come you would eat these biscuits until your tummy ached and after the Moulood season was over you wouldn't want to see these treats for a long time.

With that said, I must admit that I'm disappointed at how some of these wonderful traditions are dying out. It's traditions such as Moulood that bring communities together and, although some communities still have celebrations like the ones I described, many young children do not know where the rumpies come from or why they get a barakat.

Irrespective of one's religion or culture, I believe we should all celebrate our traditions because they form part of who we are. While some may argue that tradition is only for the sentimental, I believe tradition is a part of who we are and the continuance thereof is important to what we leave for those who come after us.

As a wise person said, "The measure of a man is not what he receives from his ancestors but what he leaves for his descendants."

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