Muharram, the first month of the Islamic Hijri Year, is of great significance to the Shia community as it marks the martyrdom of the Imam Hussain (raa) amongst other Islamic events. Muharram and following month Safar are considered to be months of mourning to Shias, where the streets and people dress in black, the streets of Manama and many villages hold processions (Aza’) and cauldrons of ”Al-Hussein’s rice” are cooked in the alleyways behind the Maatems feeding “those who mourn and who do not mourn” as the local saying goes.
One of the things I find intriguing about Muharram is the attempts of modernizing the season and create awareness in matters such as blood donation, whereas according to Al-Wasat newspaper, Bahrain collected more blood from donors than Morocco, a country with a population 30 times bigger than Bahrain. Most of these blood donation campaigns stem from Muharram and other Shia mourning-related occassions. Over the last couple of years, campaigns against littering during processions (imagine the litter of 70,000 people can do in one place) started to take effect in an effort to help the environment.
Another is “Hussaini Art”, painting, sculpture, theatre and many other art medias, all inspired by the martyrdom of Imam Hussein. These hidden talents between Bahrain’s youth only explode and expose themselves during the Muharram season for some reason. I only wished these talents showed more outside of the season and the “genre”.
Finally I would like to round up this post with a series of tweets from @JTheIslander hashtagged with #Ma2jooreen (which is the equivalent of “condolences” I guess) as he describes and rants about some of the things he sees at some processions:
1- Blasting 3aza from your car stereo with the windows rolled down does not make you “cool”. #Ma2jooreen
2- Don’t turn Facebook into an online matam if you won’t practice what you preach. #Ma2jooreen
3- You’re a douche for blocking the road with your fancy car.#Ma2jooreen
4- Wearing a Metallica/50cent/Jack-Daniels t-shirts to 3aza makes you look like a walking contradiction. #Ma2jooreen
5- If you practice 3aza to impress a girl, then you’re shallower than whoever you’re trying to impress. #Ma2jooreen
7- Teens, I hate to be break this to you, but it’s not a rock festival.#Ma2jooreen
8- Eat all you want, no one will judge you. Just please don’t litter.#Ma2jooreen
9- Keep your t-shirt on, no one needs to see your hairy man-boobs.#Ma2jooreen
11- Finally and most importantly, do reason. Don’t just follow the herd. LEARN SOMETHING. #Ma2jooreen
It’s already 2010 over here so for starters Happy New Year and あけましておめでとうございます！
During the first three days of the new year, many Japanese spend their time between friends and family touring round the many temples scattered around wishing for good luck during the new year and ‘purify’ their sins by banging a gong with a thick rope for 108 times (apparently each person commits 108 sins every year).
Other than that, it’s like most religious holidays, where families gather and eat and drink like there’s no tomorrow!
The Japanese also have a tradition of writing a single Kanji to express their feelings for the new year.
But before I go into that, most Japanese would agree if they were to sum up 2009 in one word it would be:
read (kibishii) which means strict, hard, tough and severe.
With the economic crisis battering the Japanese economy and leaving many Japanese and foreign workers jobless and eventually homeless, not forgetting an extremely strong yen (great for traveling abroad but not for anything else). The word ‘tough’ wouldn’t be enough.
As for 2010, Japan has opted an optimistic view for the coming year making the year’s Kanji
read (shin) which means ‘new’ , symbolizing the change that already happened in 2009 mainly the election of Yukio Hatoyama leader of the Democratic Party of Japan ousting the long reigning Liberal Democrats out of office, and the optimism of building a new economy and a new Japan of the future.
Another Kanji growing popular these days is:
read (yume) which means ‘dream’ as it is playing a part in the lead up into the upcoming World Cup in South Africa. Apparently they are aiming for a place in the semi final this time around.
Finally, my Kanji for 2010 is:
read (aka) which means ‘red’. Other than a sign of undying patriotism towards Bahrain, it is also a hope that I stay out of the red. Red is also the color of dawn and dusk, hopefully a beautiful peaceful end of a chapter and a beginning of a great new day.
But most importantly, we’re hopefully expecting our first born child somewhere around March and in Japanese, babies are called 赤ちゃん (aka-chan) which literally means ‘red kid’.
Recently, a very good friend of mine had her second art exhibition in Japan exploring her new found love of the colour red in Japan and I’m gonna finish off this post with one of the “私の赤” (watashi no aka) or ‘My Red’ series…
Well, it’s not the first time the Bahrain government has blocked Google-related applications…
Many of us already know that the Bahrain Ministry of Culture and Information (formerly known under the moniker of Ministry of Information) have cracked their knuckles and showed their ‘Big Brother’-esque abilities and have created a new list of Blocked websites in Bahrain.
The new list had the usual suspects, Bahrain political movement websites, Anti government web forums, Anti-Islam websites and a handful of porn websites (Playboy) etc..
This time around, the Ministry has outdone itself by blocking dozens more websites most noticably proxy websites (which allows users to enter blocked websites with ease), Google Translate and DeviantArt!
The Kingdom of Bahrain’s constitution states that the people of Bahrain have the right of freedom of speech:
حرية الرأي و البحث العلمي مكفولة, و لكل إنسان حق التعبير عن رأيه و نشره بالقول أو الكتابة أو غيرها, و ذلك وفقاً للشروط و الأوضاع التي يبينها القانون, مع عدم المساس بأسس العقيدة الإسلامية و وحدة الشعب, بما لا يثير الفرقة و الطائفية.
Freedom of opinion and scientific research is guaranteed, and everyone is right to express their views and verbally, in writing or otherwise, and in accordance with the terms and conditions prescribed by law, without prejudice to the foundations of the Islamic faith and the unity of the people, including the band (discrimination), is not sectarian.
Translated by… you guessed it!
People should be free to do whatever they want online, whether it’s safe or sinful is really none of the government’s business.. We are not cattle that need to herded and shown the ‘righteous’ or better put ‘the government’s’ way.
The most dissapointing point of this quite unintelligent act is that it was passed by the Minister, Shaikha Mai bint Ebrahim Al-Khalifa, a woman who during her tenure as the Undersecretary of Culture and National Heritage showed off how beautiful Bahrain is and bringing the world’s cultures and art right to our doorstep for free or quite cheaply through events like the Spring of Culture.
Blocking Google Translate in a world where everyone desperately needs to understand eachother and to do so quickly is simply a shot in the foot. DeviantArt on the other hand, was where most of or even all of Bahrain’s top photographers and graphic designers showed off their works and rubbed shoulders with artists from around the globe. Some of the Bahrainis’ work on DeviantArt are arguably world class and awe inspiring.
Yet once again, blocking such a site is going against everything that Shaikha Mai bint Ebrahim Al-Khalifa stood for in Bahrain’s art community…
Your Excellency, blocking these websites will in the short and long term continue to undermine the freedoms given to the Bahraini people through the constitution and depriving useful websites from the residents of Bahrain for no reason whatsoever.
Please reconsider and lift the ban off these websites and let us as a people grow more knowledgeable, educated and inspired…