Thursday, June 25, 2015

A New Dress -- a Jellabiya

I know some of my blog readers (my mom included) are laughing at the thought of me in a dress.  I am just not a dress person.  I love pants.

However, in Bahrain ladies wear dresses a lot. A WHOLE LOT! So I am trying to adapt and wear a dress from time to time.

This weekend hubbie D and I are hosting a party at our flat. Not really a full-fledged party. We have invited 20 of our friends to an Iftar with cocktails in advance of the dinner in our flat. Iftar is the meal muslims eat when they break their fast after sunset.

You might hear me giggling here.  Iftar and cocktails don’t often go in the same sentence.

So I have been shopping for a new dress to wear.  It can’t be just any kind of dress; it is going to be a jellabiya.

This is a Bahraini woman dressed in a traditional jellabiya for her wedding.
A jellabiya is the National Dress of Bahrain although very few woman wear them unless it is for a special occasion or a National event. I am encouraging all the women coming to our Iftar party to wear Bahraini National Dress, the jellabiya -- so I am shopping for one.

Hubbie D and I went to the souq and shopped dress stores trying to find a jellabiya in teal. Here we are inside one of the stores.

Right now we are in the midst of the Holy month of Ramadan. This means that the stores are only open very limited hours.

For those of you new to my blog, here is a bit of information about Ramadan.

Ramadan (in Arabic: رمضان, Ramadān) is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar. During the whole month, faithful observers of Islam fast from sunrise (Sahour) to sunset (Iftar). During the fast, no food or drink is consumed, and thoughts must be kept pure.

In Bahrain it is against the law (punishable by imprisonment up to a full year) to eat, drink or chew gum in public during Ramadan. While I was online researching for this blog, I came across a news article that a couple days ago ISIS killed two young men for breaking their fast.

Followers of Islam believe that fasting helps the Muslim learn patience, modesty, and spirituality. Meals are served before sunrise and after sunset, and eaten with family or with the local community.

Here is a list of foods that muslims enjoy during Ramadan. The photos are wonderful.

During Ramadan, two main meals are served: the Suhoor, which is served before dawn, and the Iftar, which is served after sunset.

Since the Suhoor is intended to last one throughout the day, it tends to be a heavy and hearty meal. Suhoor ends when the sun rises and the fajr, or morning prayer, begins.

At the end of the day, when the sun sets, the maghrib prayer starts, and the day's fast is broken with the Iftar meal. Many Muslims break their fast by eating dates before beginning the Iftar meal.

Muslims can continue eating and drinking throughout the night until the next day's Suhoor. After Iftar and prior to Suhoor, many have a celebration called Al Ghabga.

At the end of the Ramadan month, Muslims celebrate the Festival of the Breaking of the Fast, called Eid al-Fitr.

Time Magazine online has a stunning photo essay of iftars around the world. 

Our party is going to start in our flat and then move to the special Iftar tent at the Ritz-Carlton.

I have been practicing making Arabic coffee to serve when guests arrive so I can create an atmosphere of a majlis in our home.

Majlis is another significant Ramadan term. A majlis is a comfortable seating area in the home created especially for Ramadan (and sometimes on other important occasions) to receive visitors, mainly family and friends, but also colleagues and other respected members of the community.

Serving Arabic coffee or tea to guests when they first arrive is very traditional.

The majlis is not usually a permanent fixture of the house, but instead an area allocated for this purpose during Ramadan.

HRH Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince has been making his way all over the Kingdom of Bahrain visiting the majlises of important people.

Pictures of the Crown Prince visiting several majlises.

This time of year, the newspaper is filled with pictures showing the Royal Family making visits to majlises, Iftar celebrations and Al Ghabgas.

On the Island, there are many monthly social magazines. When new issues come out next month, they will be filled with pictures of Iftar celebrations, Al Ghabgas and other Ramadan celebrations.  They will overflow with pictures of all kinds of groups celebrating and EATING.

Between Iftar and Suhoor is Al Ghabga. Al Ghabga is a meal or party that takes place after midnight. Here in Bahrain, Al Ghabgas are big parties. After the Al Ghabga guests are invited to share Suhoor, the last meal a person takes before sunrise and the beginning another day of the fast. 

Both of these meals are usually held in the first twenty days of Ramadan. For in the last ten days of Ramadan Muslims usually dedicate the later parts of the night for prayer, reading the Qur’an and getting closer to Allah.

As you can see, there is a lot of eating that goes on during Ramadan. In fact, most people gain weight even though they are fasting during the day. The holiday is filled with food and friends.

So I finally found someone in the souq that could custom make my dress. I chose the embroidery (with a paisley design - yippee!) and the color, teal. It is really pretty and I know we are going to have a fantastic time.

Outside the shop.

A seamster working on a dress.

Our weekend is filled with fun because the day after our Iftar party is our 34th wedding anniversary!  Party On!


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