Boeberaand is a celebration and a metaphor for life

Ramadan marks the month when Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. During the fast, no food or drink is consumed –  yes not even water. It is a time of introspection, patience and humility.  The 15th of Ramadan marks the middle of the fast and the iconic Boeberaand (night). A Cape Town tradition of making Boeber; a milky drink with vermicelli and sago and spiced with cardamom and cinnamon. It has its roots in the Malay community of Cape Town, and has many interpretations. We spoke to Mariam and Moena about what Boeber aand means to them. 

Mariam Ismail Baderoon is a Cape Town food extraordinaire and tells us Boeber aand has a deeper meaning.

“It marks the 15th of the pwasa and we celebrate being oppie berg; you fasted for 15 days and you’ve reached a summit so it’s a milestone to celebrate. I imagine the 15th of Ramadan is celebrated in other parts of the world but Cape Town always gives a unique flavour to everything – and so we celebrate with boeber. Before the pandemic people would be hosting family, neighbours and friends for boeka. There would be special programmes at the mosques. 

All these celebrations transcend our differences and is a beautiful night of sharing that fortifies togetherness and a sense of community. This is the power of boeber! Reaching this halfway mark is such an achievement for everyone. 

Once we get to the 15th I don’t see the remainder of the month as a downhill ride toward Eid. On the contrary, I feel it should be a time to pause and reflect on the first 15 days. I always ask myself, have I spent enough time with my Qu’ran? Have I given enough charity? Have I done the most to attain the Pleasure of God? Can I do better? It’s not a downhill race from the summit, the 15th is a time for introspection on how to do better for the next 15 days and to finish strong.

I like to think about the vyftiende pwasa as a reboot. We are all flawed beings and we cannot be perfect all the time; so instead of focusing on the shortcomings of the first 15 days, we reboot and use the last 15 to do even better. In this way I understand Ramadan to be a metaphor for life – we constantly strive, we celebrate our achievements, and sometimes we get things wrong, but we pick ourselves up and we try to do better. 

My genius brother created this just ahead of the 15th of Ramadan. ???

Originally tweeted by Gasant Abarder (@GasantAbarder) on April 27, 2021.

Ramadan is a time of great spiritual reflection and renewal. One’s devotion and worship is heightened, and it can really serve to inform the rest of your life. It’s not like the month comes to an end and then the duiwel is los. You get to show your best self during Ramadan and should continue to do so going forward. Boeber aand is another example of the opportunity to do just that; with that unique Cape Town flavour. The love we share during this time is the boeber we share. It is so wonderful to see how everyone waits excitedly for boeber; Muslims and non-Muslims alike”

Mariam shares her boeber recipe in a video:

Mymoena Davids affectionately known as Moena is a Cape Town homemaker, and looks forward to the month of Ramadan. 

“You know how the tradition goes,you climb the mountain at the start of Ramadan. When you reach the 15th you are at this peak, and you celebrate. Here in Cape Town we do this by having boeber. There is an air of happiness that you can only get at this time. 

Nowadays you can get the prepackaged boeber mix where you just add milk. If you really want to make it classy and taste better you have to start from scratch. There is a lot of love and care that takes into preparing it this way. When possible I add in ideal or condensed milk, flaked almonds and growwe klapper as we call it.

But you know this year I am not doing Boeber. I have to wait for my social grant. So maybe later in the month. We had boeber during the month already. To me any night can be Boeber night. You can have it anytime you can afford to. You don’t have to wait for Eid to have tong, soutvleis and bout. Life is too short especially with the pandemic. We need to celebrate more. People come together more when food is involved.” 

Boeber aand is reboot button for everyone across religious beliefs. In such a fragmented society like South Africa; it is comforting to know a sweet drink can bring people together like this. The serenity and peace of Ramadan is complemented by Boeber aand, and we welcome it each year. 

Daltjies and Kaparangs released this hilarious video last night for Boeber aand. Take a look here.