Bagpipes!!!! Hello Scotland! (at Edinburg Princess Street Gardens)
Bagpipe Lalalala (at Princes Street Gardens)
Perfumes and incense. Fragrance and the senses. Fragrance and hospitality. Guests, the majlis and gently wafting waves of scented air. These are but a few combinations of what among UAE nationals has become an art in the use of perfume or incense to create an atmosphere of redolence that is unique to these regions alone.
Amber, musk, henna, saffron, al moukiya, sandalwood, rouh al ward and al oud – these are just a few of the perfumes used by men and women in the emirates. It is part of the UAE national tradition to keep the use of Western perfume products to the minimum. Incense too, which is taken as a sign of hospitality, is passed among guests in the majlis or the sitting room.
An important aspect of daily life in the UAE is perfuming clothes and the home with incense or bukhoor.
The use of bukhoor is an Islamic tradition linked to the Prophet Mohammed’s (Peace Be Upon Him) Hijra from Makkah to Al Madinah, when he was greeted with bukhoor and chants. The Prophet encouraged both men and women to keep themselves and their homes smelling pleasant, encouraging the use of perfume before Friday prayers.
Using aromatic oils and perfumes is part of UAE national life. Even today, the same original ingredients go into the making of these perfumes.
“We use both perfumed oils and incense or bukhoor, as it is called in Arabic,” said Essa bin Hareb, who learnt the business from his parents a long time ago.
Arabian perfumes are alcohol-free. While women use perfumes which are stronger and darker in colour, men use ones which are lighter both in smell and colour. Women use mixtures of amber, musk, henna, saffron, al moukiya and al sandal. Men use sandalwood, rouh, al ward and douhen al oud.
Traditionally, perfume-making is done by women only, who mix different ingredients to create strong oils that give a lasting aroma. Extracts from plants and flowers such as jasmine, narcissus and lilies are also commonly used in perfume-making.
Another kind of perfume is al mukhamaria which forms part of wedding celebrations. Every bride is expected to use it at her wedding. The scent is made of a mixture of saffron, musk, oud and henna which is stored in a bottle called zaya, and sealed for 40 days before use.
In preparation for her wedding, the bride is anointed with all sorts of traditional oils and perfumes from head to toe.
Bin Hareb noted that the perfumes used today are the same as the ones used in the past. Even their way of application is the same. While the older generation still adheres to the traditional ways of perfuming themselves, the younger generation, especially those under 30, has begun looking for French perfumes.
“Some expatriates here like Arabic perfumes and they use it because of its nice smell. Preparing these perfumes may take more than a week,” said Bin Hareb. The wood is first powdered then mixed with the oil. Then it is stored for some time before being used.
Although the younger generation is not as interested in the art of perfume-making, the tradition is still being preserved.
Adapted from Gulf News
Time to pack my bags. It’s adios time amigos. Be well.