Friday, July 12, 2013

The Singing Alarm Clock - The "Dkak" - A Fading Moroccan Ramadan Tradition

In the first of our Ramadan Diary excepts, Omar Bihmidine, writing from Sidi Ifni for Morocco World News, reminisces on the "Dkak" tradition which Omar says is on the verge of extinction

Who still remembers “dkak“, the man who wakes people up for Shour- the meal served just before dawn prayer- during Ramadan? While the elder generation still remembers him, the bulk of the young generation of Moroccans does not even know what he stood for.

As I was asking some friends on social media networks about this tradition, I was stunned and saddened to learn that most of them did not know much to say about this emblematic person in the Moroccan tradition. Thank God, in some old cities, such as Fez, Meknes, Tangier, Tetouan, Marrakesh, Sale and Rabat, especially in the old neighborhoods, some people still struggle to keep this tradition alive.

The ‘dkak‘ uses different traditional instruments, such as the bell, and passes by houses one after another while ringing the bell and uttering words that signal the time of Shour. As time goes by, it, however, appears that this Moroccan golden tradition is on the verge of extinction.

From one place to another, the ‘dkaks‘ hold different attitudes towards this tradition. While some of them deem it as a hobby and practice it for religious purposes, some others resort to it to earn their living during Ramadan, especially that some families bestow a few coins on the man devoted to waking them up.

Many fasters used to count on this man, and they so much cherished hearing his call to ‘ Shour‘. At the time, the call even became an indispensable part of their fasting during Ramadan.

On the other hand, some people can no longer stand hearing the man calling them because, for them, he is just making noise and preventing them from sleeping well. With the alarm clocks beside their beds, people are no longer in need of the man. Worse is that he has become a nuisance to them.

In all frankness, we are nostalgic about this man. No one can deny that he did a noble job and served us well when alarm clocks were absent. Yet, unfortunately, this job is becoming extremely rare, especially now that technology which permeates every aspect of our lives would suffice to wake us up at the appointed time. Now, as Moroccans rely on the alarm clock, they started already forgetting about their past tradition.

Even if there might be some Moroccans who still take delight in this noble job, no one still dares to practice it for fear that they may be looked upon as nuisances to people.

It is high time Moroccans looked back on how they used to live in the past during Ramadan. Observing this tradition disappear must sadden us. Hence, we must at least owe a great debt of gratitude to the ‘dkaks‘, and why not even dedicate a special day to observing this golden tradition. Otherwise, we will continue to lose the genuine peculiarities that make up the Moroccan identity.

The article was first published on Morocco World News and is republished with permission 

See all the Ramadan Diary excerpts - RAMADAN DIARY

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