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08 May 2012 Palestine in Manama By Anasuya Kesavan
Appreciating another culture and their differences has been the hallmark of Bahrain’s tolerant society, which has been home to people of various religious faiths, backgrounds and communities.

This has been further reflected in the Arab cultures exhibited at the 20th Heritage Festival, highlighting the tradition of folk tales and the Bahraini relationship with the sea, land and city. While the first three days also showcased Palestinian culture, Yemeni and Sudanese culture will be highlighted in turn during the remainder of the festival. 

Organized by the Palestinian Embassy in Bahrain, the Palestinians exhibited their beautiful clothes, food, dance and music and even the celebrations during the wedding ceremony. For the uninitiated, glass cases were decorated with the national costume of a Palestinian woman, which included heavily embroidered gowns, richly decorated head wear, belts, jackets and a young girl’s dress. Similarly, formal men’s attire, worn during celebrations and weddings, was also exhibited.  

Khulood Muhammad, first secretary of the Palestinian Embassy, explained that the dresses revealed the wearer's origin, differentiating for example, Palestinians from southern areas vis-a-vis those from Bethlehem. Women from the south tend to wear light coloured gowns that are embroidered in the front and sleeves with bright red, green and blue thread. On the other hand, women from Bethlehem like to wear brighter clothes in dark reds that are richly embroidered, giving the impression of wealth. A woman’s wedding dress that was on display had an abundant use of gold thread. Khulood explained that according to the economic status of the bride, the head scarf would be embellished with real gold coins or polished brass. This was juxtaposed with the costumes of Ramallah city girls who favoured red and black colours in their clothes. Interestingly, there was a richly embroidered red jacket on display that could easily be worn by a cosmopolitan modern woman. 

The beautiful textiles and handicrafts of this beautiful country were not the only cultural facets visitors admired. Tables laden with handmade scarves, bags, coasters, baskets, ashtrays and purses were also for sale. A coaster set was for BD8 while a purse or a bag could fetch BD10. From the land also known for its famous spice zataar, or thyme, and zeitoun or olives, bottles of olive oil and packets containing these precious goods and local almonds were for sale. Toilet soaps made of natural materials such as milk, olive oil, lemon and even Dead Sea mud was on offer for BD1. 

Visitors were informed that the traditional Palestinian breakfast is made up of bread dipped in zataar and olive oil – a natural combination that would assure a healthy beginning for the day.

The array of natural foods from the historical country included chamomile, which is added to tea for stomach aches and colds, freekah, a box of grains grounded to be eaten like soup or added to vegetables and chicken dishes for BD2.500 and bottles of nigella sativa, a herb that has been regarded even in Islam as one of the greatest forms of healing medicine available.

Participation in the 43rd Fine Arts Exhibition Bahrain Map