Hortensia Alaofary Kanfoudy is happy to continue a tradition of sharing a special Easter dessert with her Muslim neighbors and friends in Senegal.
Christians and Muslims demonstrate unity and solidarity by sharing the dessert called ngalakh, which is often prepared by the Christian community for Easter celebrations.
Feverish preparations for Easter Sunday are underway in Senegal where Christians make up 4% of the population.
Good Friday, which marks the end of the 40-day Lenten season, falls on the Friday before Easter Sunday.
When Easter is mentioned in Senegal, the first flavor that comes to mind is ngalakh. The sweet dish is made with thiakry, a type of semolina commonly used in West Africa, along with baobab fruit, nutmeg, milk, sugar and peanut cream.
Christian families get together at the home of an elder early Friday to prepare ngalakh, which is intended to feed not only their families but neighbors as well.
Youngsters create a roster of Muslim neighbors and acquaintances and distribute the dessert until late Friday.
Kanfoudy, who prepared ngalakh with her family, said Christians fast for 40 days before Easter and the dessert symbolizes the end of the fast.
“We get together with our elders to prepare ngalakh together and distribute it to our Muslim neighbors. We are very happy to be able to continue this ancestral tradition,” she told Anadolu.
But ngalakh is not just a dessert, said Kanfoudy. “Besides being a traditional dessert, ngalakh is also a symbol that strengthens the dialogue between Muslims and Christians.”
She said Muslims also offer treats to neighbors on days such as Eid al-Adha — the festival that culminates the annual Hajj that commemorates Prophet Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son.
“This sharing, which is made at every religious celebration, also strengthens the dialogue and the sense of unity,” she said
Rokhaya Diagne, Kandoudy’s aunt who is a Muslim, participated in preparing mgalakh. She said Muslims and Christians live together not only in society but in the same family.
Siblings and or parents of different religions can also be found in the same family.
“Every year we cook ngalakh at my nephew’s house. I am Muslim, my sister is Christian. We do not see each other as different. This solidarity is unique to Senegal,” she said. “I’m proud of this picture.”
Muslim, Christian peace
Muslims make up 96% of the population in Senegal and more than 60% strictly follow Sufi teachings such as Tijani and Qadiri.
Thanks to the teachings, Senegal is an exemplary country where Muslims and Christians live in peace.
Unlike other West African countries, in Senegal, where there are no extremist elements, the minority Christian population respects Sufi teachings and their leaders.
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