Sharjah: The voices of young children singing ‘Atoona Hag Al Laila’ (Give us sweets for tonight) resonated throughout the Heart of Sharjah historic district on Saturday, where the 18th Sharjah Heritage Days (SHD) marked the occasion of the annual Hag Al Laila with sweets, games, and other activities.
A centuries-old traditional Emirati celebration, Hag Al Laila (For this Night) is observed on the night of the 15th of Shaban, the Islamic month preceding Ramadan. On this night, children go door-to-door in the neighbourhood and sing songs while collecting sweets and treats.
At the Heart of Sharjah, children dressed in traditional attire thronged the Children’s Village at SHD where colourful handwoven baskets filled with assorted varieties of candies, peanuts, chocolate sticks, and little juice bottles, were lined up. The young participants were delighted to fill up their goody bags — each bearing their name in distinctive Arabic calligraphy — with the sweets of their choice.
Children engaged in several games including hopscotch, blindfolded painting, and basketball, while also learning about the nation’s pearling heritage through a game that challenged them to discover pearls in oysters. Live cooking sessions, storytelling and watching old children’s movies completed the festive atmosphere at the Children’s Village, which was decked up in colourful Ramadan decor ahead of the arrival of the holy month of fasting.
For children and adults alike, the Hag Al Laila celebrations at SHD raised awareness of the annual cultural practice and enabled members of the community to bond with each other.