Hilumur: An Indispensable Item on a Ramadan Table
Hilumur accompanied by porridge are an indispensable twin in any Sudanese Ramadan table worth the name and this is a tradition than have been going on for tens of decades.
This is why families in Sudan are very keen to send packages of Hilmur to their relatives and beloved ones living abroad where ever they are. These packages are considered essential for women abroad old or young for the preparation of Ramadan Iftar for their families as it gives them a sense of belonging to the mother land and keeping their beautiful traditions in this holy month.
With the smells of the cooking for the Ramadan Hilmur, Sudan Vision reporters went to explore the present status of this beautiful and old tradition and how it is cooked, the ingredients in its manufacture and the cooperation among women in its production.
The first women we meet was Badria Khalafallah who lives in Ombadda Square 14 who said that we are used to the making of Hilumur but at the present the economic and financial conditions have changed a lot. In the beautiful past the making traditions where nice and makes you sense the coming of the Holy month. In the past there was total coordination among women living in a certain area to avoid contradictions between the cooking time of the different households. Also, because the making of Hilumur makes it necessary that the process is based on a participatory approach due that it is very difficult for one woman to bear the heat of making all her quantity of Hilumur in one day alone. So, the women make a timetable among themselves and in each day at least a month before the Holy Ramadan month, they go to one house and each make a bucket while those who are not making, serve the others by preparing and presenting the cooks with tea, coffee and cold water. While the men role is in providing the funding for the purchase of sugar, tea and coffee.
But Badria said that the making of Hilumur needs at present a financial and physical resources that are meager or even unavailable because the development of the living conditions have occupied people with so many concerns that the participatory approach is diminishing.
She went further to say that the cooking and production of Hilumur Hilumur needs basically dura but many ingredients are added to give it the flavor and taste like Karkade, etc. These ingredients are grounded until they become powder and then mixed with water and added to the grounded dura it become like a soup before cooking.
But this year due to the high cost of components of the making of Hilumur, many will not be doing it because the quarter (12 kilos) of maize price is at present between SDG.20-25which is more than a 100 percent increase over last year prices and this also applies to the 14 ingredients and species that are necessary for the making and production of Hilumur. At present women are faced with two heats, that of the cooking fires and the prices. So many families during this Ramadan will divert to canned drinks because a packet of Hilmur will cost about SDG: 350-400 which many cannot afford in the present circumstances.
This has been a source of sorrow for Neimat Ahmed who said that her family used to cook Hilumur for the Holy Ramadan for decades but this year they cannot do so because of the financial constraints due to the high prices of the components including the price of butane gas and wood necessary for the cooking as well as the high price of sugar in addition to that the family has many other obligations beside Hilumur during Ramadan.
A specialist in Hilumur making Ms. Saad Al Tahir says that many women who cannot make Hilumur are buying it ready made but in small quantities because the price of one bucket at preset about SDG:50.
But Ms. Zainab Gaffar has a different view and said that the Holy month of Ramadan comes only once in the year and that whatever the circumstances the Sudanese will not neglect their beautiful traditions which complements of this holy occasion. She called on the government institutions thought cooperative societies to assist people during this month and make easy and affordable for the citizens to obtain the necessary commodities.
By Najad Ahmed,Khalda Elyas,Alsir Mukhtar, 18/07/2012