Weddings are perhaps the most joyous of every culture’s celebrations and have had some associated with status and pride of a family.
In most cultures it is an occasion for music and dance, family get-togethers, customs and traditions and most importantly for everyone to dress in their finest best. At the 20th Heritage Festival, highlighting the tradition of folk tales and Bahraini relationship between the sea, land and city, a major section of the exhibition space had been converted to reflect the joys of a traditional Bahraini wedding.
Crowds were entertained at regular intervals by men wearing traditional costumes dancing ‘Lehwa’ a dance performed at weddings and celebrations. The men stood around the musicians who were beating drums of several sizes in a rhythmic fashion. There were also accompanied by an instrumentalist blowing his pipe.
The younger generation was not excluded as young boys were being encouraged to join in the dancing that included leaps and jumps by men who were singing to the sounds of the music.
On one end of the hall, it was interesting to see ladies rolling bukhoor and selling various items that are important to the wedding that included herbs, perfumes and dress materials.
The area was further demarcated with glass boxes showing the elaborately embroidered beautiful costumes worn by men and women during the wedding ceremony. Some of the items on display seemed to come straight out of a museum and included leather and wooden shoes, perfume bottles, swords and ornate gold ornaments worn by the bride.
However, the clincher in this section was the information provided in Arabic and English on the traditional wedding customs that briefed visitors on the events for the wedding and how the entire village or community celebrated the auspicious occasion.
A visit to a fair is incomplete without a bit of shopping. And, the event provided ample opportunities to get a visual experience of Bahrain’s local produce and an opportunity to purchase handcrafted goods from Bahrain’s cottage industry.
Shops aligned in a couple of rows right behind the wedding display had mementos and gift items alongside cane baskets, showaiter sweets, juice and homemade spices and pickles. A unique item from the carpenter was thin walking sticks and a replica of a traditional Bahraini house.
There were items that were not very expensive and a decorated clay candle stand with a candle and a tiny Quran in a beaded purse was on sale for just BD1. The friendliness of Bahrainis was very evident as everyone had a welcoming smile and my little girl was even offered a vegetable kebab to taste. A warn dozen of these tasty kebabs was on offer for just 500fils each.
Stealer deals were available for tailored gowns that Bahraini women wear for just BD4 and handmade wooden toys ranging from BD4 to BD40. Proprietor, Rashid Jalal, who said that making toys has been his hobby for the past 25-years, had an excellent array of items that could serve very well as Bahraini memories.
He had donkey carts for BD10, an old styled bus for BD40, an almirah for BD4 and tiny but perfectly carved replicas of drums, violin and qanoon, the Arabic harp and the famously decorated Bahraini doors.
Proud of his work Mr Jalal, who operates out of Capital Mall, said: “I believe in quality and only use Swedish wood. I like my job and want people to remember me for the finesse and tiny details that I include in my work.”
Further down there was a vendor selling aluminum tins and boxes, funnels, sieves, woks and tongs and various other items used for storage and in the kitchen.
Alongside potters, basket makers, weavers and others, a major attraction was a painter decorating varnished parts of a palm tree decorated with jute rope.
All in all a great experience whether it lightened the purse or added to the window shoppers’ delights.