Friday, May 1, 2020

Kodak Agfa presents : Ramadan lanterns 2020 in time of Coronavirus

Ramadan Kareem 🏮

This is my annual Kodak Agfa post dedicated to the beautiful Ramadan Lanterns of Egypt.
This is the Coronavirus year and it affected the Lanterns market and Lanterns workshops badly.

This year the famous Sayida Zeinab’s Ramadan Makeshift is not held at El-Sadd street and it is a big blow to the vendors from all over Egypt participating it in Cairo’s biggest seasonal informal market.

Egyptian Handmade Ramadan Lanterns for sale in Cairo
Ramadan lanterns at El-Sadd street of El-Sayida Zeinab 
Due to the outbreak of Coronavirus in the country, the Municipality refused to grant the vendors permission to hold the market.The government already issued decisions to suspend informal markets in Egypt in order to Curb the spread of Coronavirus.

Already it closed down Al-Sayida Zeinab Mosque and shrine in front of visitors and suspend her Moulid in Mid March.

Egypt's El-Sayida Zeinab Mosque
El-Sayida Zeinab Mosque is completely closed down since Mid March

I went there from three weeks ago in the morning as during then Egypt had a curfew from 7 PM to 6 AM. The Sadd street did not host the makeshift market but the Lanterns vendors held small fragmented makeshift stands throughout the street




Egyptian Handmade Ramadan Lanterns for sale in Cairo
Some sellers broke the law and showcased their goods in the street 
When I went, I knew that the lanterns workshops were closed because it was too hard to work during the curfew before the government would reduce it in the past two weeks.
Egyptian Handmade Ramadan Lanterns for sale in Cairo
Big and Midsize lanterns for sale from three weeks ago in El-Sadd street
I do not know if they re-open again but I know from speaking with the big lanterns traders in the area, they all agree that it was the worst year for them. 
Egyptian Handmade Ramadan Lanterns for sale in Cairo
Different style of authentic Egyptian handmade lanterns 

Some depended on their old lanterns stock or what was already produced till the closure of the workshops.
Egyptian Handmade Ramadan Lanterns for sale in Cairo
Boogy is here too along with Western-style lanterns for sale 

Even the cheap Chinese plastic lanterns vendors depend on their old stock because of coronavirus pandemic which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

According to Cairo's Chamber of Commerce, there is a 70% decline in the demand for stationary and Chinese lanterns this year due to the pandemic.

Chinese Plastic Ramadan lanterns for Sale in Egypt
Chinese Plastic lanterns 

Ironically, Egypt issued a decision to ban the Chinese plastic lanterns to preserve the local industry of Ramadan lanterns but still, the Chinese Ramadan lanterns were imported to the country as toys.
Egyptian Handmade Ramadan Lanterns for sale in Cairo
Handmade Ramadan lanterns made of glass and tin
In another Coronavirus impact on the Egyptian local lanterns industry, it turned out that Egypt used to export its lanterns to the Gulf and with the suspension of air flights the workshops and traders had another blow.
Egyptian Handmade Ramadan Lanterns for sale in Cairo
Some sellers broke the law and tried to sell their lanterns in the daylight before the curfew

I could not ask what the trendy or the latest fashion in Lanterns this year but I found that there have been new shapes and sizes of lanterns.

Egyptian Ramadan small Lanterns for sale in Cairo
Different styles of small lanterns 


There are small handmade Ramadan Lanterns made of coloured beads.

Egyptian Ramadan small Lanterns for sale in Cairo
Small Ramadan lanterns made of beads 
There are small lanterns made of wood with people’s first name written on it like Mohamed, Anas and Nasser.
Egyptian Ramadan small Lanterns for sale in Cairo
Small lanterns made of woods with people's first names 
Ramadan’s Al-Khayamia red texture pattern home décor accessories are still there and they still enjoy high demand.

Egyptian Ramadan Lanterns andaccessories in Cairo
Ramadan red Khayamia accessories 
I think that this is last year’s stock.
Egyptian Ramadan accessories in Cairo
Ramadan red Khayamia accessories 
Moving along the street, I knew that lanterns big traders opened their shops and made makeshift shops too at Port Said street near the Islamic Museum of Cairo and Cairo security directorate” as well as the place of the Ramadan workshops itself.

Egyptian Handmade Ramadan Lanterns hanging for sale in Cairo
A bigger makeshift Ramadan Lanterns stand in Port Said street
Interestingly, they sold a new collection of Ramadan décor accessories with more funky patterns including cushions.
Egyptian Ramadan Cushions
Ramadan funky cushions 
Egyptian Handmade Ramadan Lanterns for sale in Cairo
Customers at a big makeshift stand for Ramadan lanterns and decorations 
Not shockingly, there were people who were buying Ramadan Lanterns and Ramadan.
Egyptian Handmade Ramadan Lanterns hanging for sale in Cairo
A bigger makeshift Ramadan Lanterns stand in Port Said street
The week after, many people went to the crowded area in Islamic Cairo to buy Ramadan lanterns and decorations care less for Coronavirus.

Ramadan decorations have also become another essential part of the Holy Month in Egypt whether you are rich or poor. It is like our Christmas tree and decorations.

Historically, the Ramadan lantern or “Fanoos Ramadan” as an Egyptian tradition and its industry during the Holy Month started in the Fatimid era according to the Egyptian historian Al-Maqrizi.
Egyptian Handmade Ramadan Lanterns hanging for sale in Cairo
The authentic shape of Ramadan lanterns 
There are several origin stories for the Fanoos, but the most popular one was that the Egyptians especially children held lanterns in one Ramadan night to light the streets of Cairo to welcome Fatimid Caliph and the Founder of Cairo Al-Moez Li Din Allah.

Either way, it is one of Egypt's long-living traditions and I am happy that it survived Coronavirus in a way or another. 

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