Despite the Economic Crisis, Damascus Residents Still Preserve Takriza
The people of Damascus have preserved their traditions despite the many changes they have faced due to the economic crisis that has raged in Syria. One of these traditions is Takriza, a picnic which takes place in the last week before Ramadan.
But this year’s Takriza took place with an extra burden because of the crisis. Their food supplies became simpler, from the usual grilled meats to ordinary home-cooked meals.
Hana Fawaz, a resident who enjoyed Takriza, said, “During the war, we lost many things. We were afraid of picnics and Takriza because of the mortars and the war. When the war ended, a new economic war emerged. People did not have the economic means to have picnics and buy meat to roast “Despite all that, Takriza still exists even though it uses simpler methods. For example, people bring food and snacks from home. Takriza is now more about the meeting, not the food.”
Women sit together in a park during ‘Takriza’, a picnic which takes place during the last week before Ramadan in Damascus, Syria, March 11, 2023. (REUTERS/Firas Makdesi)
Ghassan Moghrabieh is the owner of a private garden. In the park, people have to pay 2,550 lira (about Rp. 5,100) for a seat only. Visitors are free to bring their own food.
Moghrabieh said, “Those who come for a picnic bring simple food like beans, hummus and homemade dishes. Only five per cent of diners eat grilled meat this year, really very little. Last year the situation was better than this year. This year only five percent who eat grilled meat. They all eat home-cooked food. There used to be more food than now.”
Syria’s economic collapse, fueled by years of conflict, Western sanctions, a currency crisis and the loss of the northeastern oil-producing region from government control, is pushing millions of people deeper into poverty each year.
Members of a traditional Damascus band arrive at a park in horse-drawn carriages during ‘Takriza’, a picnic which takes place during the last week before Ramadan in Damascus, Syria, March 11, 2023. (REUTERS/Firas Makdesi)
With state revenues continuing to fall, authorities have been forced to slash subsidies that are helping Syrians weather the worst of the crisis. The government also struggled to buy imported fuel after the war in Ukraine increased world energy prices.
To encourage the people of Damascus to preserve Takriza amidst the economic pressure, the Damascene House band organized Takriza where they performed traditional dances as well as recitations of fairy tales and poetry which attracted many visitors.
Takriza is being held in Rabwa, the eastern Ghouta and other green spaces that surround Damascus. Takriza is usually held at the end of the month of Shaban, the eighth month of the Islamic calendar, and just before the start of the holy month of Ramadan. [uh/ab]