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Ghabga – a traditional get-together or brag?

KUWAIT: The holy month of Ramadan brings good time for the people to share traditional Ramadan hospitality. The annual Ramadan Ghabga is very common in Kuwait, which provides the atmosphere of joy and happiness among the community members. Ghabga, a meal served at late night, is a get-together that usually takes place from around 10:30 pm to midnight or even later and there is always food at the ghabga.

Many people replace the meal eaten in a ghabga as suhoor. It comes between Futoor (fast-breaking) and Suhoor (just before dawn) time wise. Ghabga is a Kuwaiti tradition. Many companies and corporate houses host Ghabga evening for the employees and invitees for socializing and getting together. It is also a great time to indulge in food.

Corporate ghabgas almost always take place in hotels, and at an earlier time that suits most of the employees. Annual Ghabga event strengthens ties among employees and reflects the true nature of the holy month. And between supporters and opponents of this phenomenon, Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) met with a number of citizens and stakeholders to explore their views on this phenomenon, which varied between supporters of the idea of holding the Ghabqas in hotels and theaters and opponents who insist on having it in the house.

Ahmad Youssef, a sales official at one of the five-star hotels, said booking halls during Ramadan for ghabgas by Kuwaiti families was not a new tradition, but the most important determinants of this phenomenon is the ability of hotels to accommodate the larger number of people. Youssef added that most Ghabqas that are held in hotels are pre-conditioned with booking of no less than 50 people, which is a large number to be accommodated in the house.

He pointed to a significant trend being adopted by many families to get the services inside the homes (Catering) which are supervised by the hotel management. For her part, Nouf Al-Salem said that holding the ghabga at the special halls or hotels is considered as sort of lavishing and bragging that is away from the spirit of the holy month of Ramadan, which is manifested in tolerance, humility and a sense towards the needy and the poor. She added that holding ghabqa in homes is among the funny and entertaining habits, which are inherited by parents from their grandparents.

Abdullah Al-Matrouk said that the requirements of modern life have necessitated holding ghabqas in hotels for many reasons; chiefly the ability of hotels to accommodate the large number of people as well as to avoid inconvenience to the neighbors. He added that the ghabga itself is an inherited Kuwaiti tradition intended to bring together the largest number of relatives, loved ones and friends in one place, whether at home or the hotel, pointing out that “our ancestors did not have the financial abundance and lifestyle that we live now”. – KUNA

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