Friday, February 17, 2006


Women’s Zaar Ceremony!

Today since we had our concerts all organized, we took it easy, and it as actually our funnest day so far! We had lessons – Rami with Ashraf on the Riq and me with Fikry on the Rababa. The lessons were schedules 2.5 hours apart, but one came late and the other early, so they ended up getting here at around the same time (that always seems to happen!) But it was ok – I got to chat with Fikry while Rami was having his lesson. It’s nice because this year my Arabic is so much better so I can really communicate with Fikry. He explained to me that when he was a kid, people only played the rababa as a drone for singing and that he was one of the first people to play actual songs on the rababa! He is AMAZING! In this lesson we worked on Taksim (improvisation based on the maqams). I learned SO MUCH! He wants me to play with him at a family wedding – one of his cousins is marrying another one of his cousins. I think it will be a blast and he said I could bring the girls as well!

After the lessons we went to meet with Henkish. I decided that rather than have a joint concert like I did with Saiid, I’d rather do my own concert and then have him as a special guest for a song or two at the end. So he’s fine with that, and we’re all excited about the show. We’ll rehearse a few times after I return from Tel Aviv.

On our way back from Henkish we had a nice surprise! Right next to the Kings Tomb on our street, we saw, on the sidewalk, about 4 dumbek and 4 frame drums made of skin, being heated up next to a burner. There was a guy there so we asked him what’s going on and it turns out there was a womans zaar ceremony just starting! We went in and saw the whole thing. It was AMAZING! The Zar is a healing ritual performed mailnly by women for women. It is an ancient purification rite that aims to pacify numerous spirits. The participants are meant to reach an altered state of consciousness. The ritual is lead by a woman called Kudeyit, who usually possesses a remarkably strong character. The Kudeyit in the ceremony we saw was like out of a dream – Rami and I both felt that we knew her before.

This ritual is one of the few acceptable ways for women to release pent up emotions and frustrations while consciously seeking healing powers.

This ceremony was very powerful and interesting. I don’t know if I reached an altered state of consciousness (or maybe I’m just always in an altered state of consciousness). Anyway, if anyone every has the opportunity to see such a thing I highly recommend it!

Now I’m back home and I have about 4 hours until my bus leaves to Tel Aviv! My next blog entry will be from there!

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