I remember when I was little I visited my mother’s hometown near Ghulja. For the first three days of Ramadan, just before Iftar time, the kids would run around to every house holding bags and singing a song to get sweets and snacks from the residents, a little reminiscent of Halloween to my Western-cultured 7-year-old self. It was just before winter, cold, and we mostly used the moonlight to see, but I still remember the excitement and electricity that ran alongside us, lighting a warm path to every wide gate. I remember we received lollies, apples, chocolates, popcorn, some hard bread from a particularly irritable lady, and the most prized snack: shimishka (sunflower seeds). We split the booty between us under the faint light of a lamp outside someone’s house before returning home, giggling in triumph. I believe the ditty went a bit like this:
“Ramzhan Allah, shehri Ramzhan,
xosh mubarek keldiler shu Ramzhan.
Uyungning arqasida tayning izi,
beridu keshmir yaghliq Bayning qizi.
Bu Roza ottuz iken, mehman iken,
Rozini tutmighanlar haywan iken!”