Saturday, June 1, 2019

Kodak Agfa Presents : Back to El-Siyada Zeinab Ramadan Market

I know that Ramadan is packing up its bags and is going to leave us within hours but it is never too late to share those couple of photos with you guys.
If you want to have a glimpse of the true spirit of the Holy Month of Ramadan in Egypt, you do not go to upscale neighborhoods but rather working-class neighborhoods
If you want to have a glimpse of how local markets celebrate the holy month then there is no better than El-Siyada Zeinab make-shift Ramadan market.
El-Siyada Zeinab Mosque overlooking the market
El-Siyada Zeinab's minaret overlooking the make-shift market 
This was not the first time to visit the most famous market when it comes to the Ramadan Lanterns but it was the first time for me to visit the market during Ramadan.
I visited it in 2016 just one night before Ramadan and it was a great experience for me breaking a lot of barriers to me as a shy photographer.

Now According to the sellers, the market got fewer visitors and customers during Ramadan than before Ramadan which is logic if you think about it.

Customers in El-Sayida Zeinab
A customer checking the lanterns 
This is the fourth year for Egypt to ban the import of Chinese-made Ramadan lanterns.
In an attempt to preserve the tradition handmade industry of Ramadan lanterns, the government issued a ministerial decree in 2015 to ban the Chinese plastic Ramadan lanterns.
Ramadan lanterns in the market
The famous handmade Egyptian traditional lantern 
In 2019, I can say that the Ramadan lantern market is controlled by Egyptian made Ramadan lanterns starting with the traditional-tin glass lantern to the popular wooden lanterns to the Plastic lanterns.
Ramadan lanterns seller
A seller of traditional tin-glass lanterns 
I noticed this year that there are Egyptian plastic Ramadan lanterns that no only flashlight but also can play Ramadan songs just like Chinese-made lanterns.
Egyptian plastic Ramadan lanterns
A mix of wooden and plastic lanterns as fully plastic lanterns 
I also noticed that those lanterns were made in Mounfia governorate, Nile Delta not in Cairo like traditional tin-glass lanterns.
The wooden lanterns continue to become an affordable and safer choice for families that want something safe and cheap for their children.
Customers at the Ramadan market
Checking various models of wooden lanterns 
The price of the wooden lanterns starts LE 10 and goes up till LE 100.
The original traditional handmade tin-glass lantern is still the most expensive as well as the most beautiful too.
Ramadan Lanterns at the market
The original Egyptian traditional glass-tin lantern 
What is the most popular type of lantern in 2019?
According to one of the lanterns vendors, it is any lantern with the photo of Mohamed Salah on it.
Mo Salah Ramadan Lantern
A Mohamed Salah wooden Khayamia style small lantern 
“May God protect Salah for us,” The vendor said when I asked him.
You can see Salah drawn on the big glass-tin traditional handmade lantern which is quite expensive.
Egyptian Ramadan lanterns sold in Cairo
Zoom in to see Salah's bigger glass-tin lanterns 
Salah was not only featured on Ramadan Lanterns but his dolls were sold too.
His manager, Ramy Abbas could have a heart attack on how his star’s image is used back home without any royalties !!
Despite the Chinese-made Egyptian-traditional-shaped lanterns yet other Chinese plastic toys that sold as lanterns made their way to the market eventually.

Chinese Toys sold in Ramadan market
The Chinese toys/lanterns 
They are officially registered as toys, not as lanterns yet they are not popular because, in the end, they do not look like Ramadan lanterns.
Yes, they move around with flashing lights blasting Ramadan songs but as Robots or Hello Kitty.
There are toys that are sold as toys like dolls and because we are in Ramadan, those dolls are veiled and called Mariam !!
Mariam Doll at El-Sayida Zeinab Market
Mariam doll 
I mean China is giving hell to the Muslim Uighur women for wearing a veil and yet it exports to us veiled dolls.

Aside from the traditional lanterns and toys, there is new merchandise that is gaining popularity in the Holy Month: Ramadan decorations.

It seems that it became a staple item for Egyptian families regardless of their classes.
The famous Al-Khayamia’s motifs with its different colors especially Red became in Ramadan just like Christmas trees in Christmas.
Al-Khayamia’s famous red color tablecloth became something essential. I saw first hand how women buy at the market directly tablecloth from kiosks with prices cheaper than in the usual shops.

Egyptian Ramadan lanterns and decoration sold in Cairo
Ramadan decorations from every type and kind 
The market does not sell only Al-Khayamia’s tablecloths only but rather a whole range of decoration items as well as Al-Khayamia’s Ramadan lanterns.
There are tables and short chairs covered with Al-Khayamia’s famous cloth.
Ramadan decorations at El-Sayida Zeinab market
Ramadan Khayamia decorations
The motifs changed from the traditional Khayamia patterns to patterns featuring famous TV actors as well children puppets associated with the Holy Ramadan in Egypt like cartoon character Bakkar and Egyptian legendary comedian Fouad el-Mohandes.
There are Bogy and Tamtam puppets stickers, there are the glittery versions of those stickers too.
"Bogy" returns back to Egypt's Ramadan
Bogy glittery stickers 
There are also plushy Bogy and Tamtam dolls locally made in Egypt and this honestly makes me happy. There are different sizes of them.
Tamtam dolls in the market
Tamtam plushy dolls 
I feel jealous that they were not available in my childhood.
Snapping a photo with Ramadan dolls
Snapping a photo with Tamtam dolls 
Of course, forget about the copyright royalties.
Now comparing to the market in 2016, there are fewer lanterns and more other stuff and they are mostly related to food and kitchen.

Just like in 2016, dates which are essential Ramadan food items along with Ramadan dried fruits.
Dried Fruits seller at El-Sayida Zeinab market
The dried fruits street vendor stand 
There were ongoing discussions between the sellers and customers who are looking for something cheaper but good at the same time especially that many of those items like dried raisins are imported.

Bargaining in a Cairo Ramadan market
Discussing price with dates vendors 
I saw this year handmade pottery pots in the market.
Pottery pots vendor in Ramadan market
The pottery pots vendor and his stand in the market 

There were also kitchen plastic items and I bet that they were sold for cheaper prices than in stores.
Plastic containers in Ramadan market
Kitchen plastic items stand in the market 
Islamic rosaries were sold too as in the end we are speaking about a holy month that believers should spend in worshiping not in fasting and breakfasting.
The Muslim rosaries vendor in Cairo
Islamic rosaries stand in the market 
Second hand and smuggled old clothes mostly Chinese were sold in the market at its end, it is another new addition.
Moving around El-Sayida Ramadan Market
The second-hand clothes vendor looking anxiously to the policeman as he passed by 
I could not take a better photo for the clothes vendor because the policemen began to show up and the kid started to move his merchandise because unlike other vendors in the market, it seems that he got no permit and was standing illegally.

The market during the breakfast or Iftar hosts a big Rahman Banquet for the poor and those who have got to break their fasting in the street for free as an act for charity.

After breakfast, the banquet tables and chairs are put away till the next day.
Something caught their attention in the market
Something caught their attention 
You can see the chairs of the banquet here in the photo whereas after Iftar popular Hummus El-Sham drink is sold by lady vendor.

Yes, Egyptians drink something made of Hummus and I won’t share because enough is enough and Hummus is humiliated enough in the West.

Anyhow, I hope you like the photos and share them along with the post. May you have a blessed Ramadan and Happy Eid to the whole universe.

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