Wed, 30 November 2022
Taking place within the historic Neighbourhoods of the city, from Bayt Siyadi in the North to Qal’at Bu Mahir in the Southernmost tip of its island, Muharraq Nights will be an unmissable celebration of Bahrain’s rich heritage. Held over two weekends from December 1-3 & 8-10, from 5:00pm to 9:00pm the festival of all things Bahraini culture is organised by the Pearling Path and Sheikh Ebrahim Bin Mohammed Al Khalifa Centre for Culture and Research. Delving into Bahrain’s authentic traditions as well as modern interpretations of traditional art, the festival will be hosted at different cultural centres across Muharraq.
One such custom that is particularly prevalent in the Muharraq Nights Festival is Pearl diving culture, particularly Fijiri music, considered one of Bahrain’s most characteristic folk traditions. Before the discovery of oil in the region, the pearl trade was Bahrain’s most lucrative export, and it is said that up to ninety percent of the island’s workers had jobs revolving around seafaring or harbours. Fijiri is the music of Bahrain’s Pearl Divers, consisting of a vocal chorus led by one man, and accompanied by percussion such as clapping, drums, or clay pots. The lyrics of the pearl divers’ songs typically revolve around the hardships they faced as seafarers, particularly the pain of being separated from their parents and children while out at sea. Additionally, the songs and chanting call and response often served to help sailors to keep rhythm when rowing, hoisting sails, and hauling ropes in time with one another.
The UNESCO Heritage Site ‘Pearling, Testimony of an Island Economy’ represents the prominence of Bahrain’s pearling era. Preserving the city’s architectural heritage and the last original shoreline and oyster beds that remain allows for the custom to be perpetuated through culturally led urban development, maintaining these irreplaceable heritage sites and their centrality to Bahrain. From the Pearl diver to the grand pearl merchant, all facets of life around Pearling will be illustrated throughout 16 properties along the famous Muharraq Pearling Path.
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