Birzeit Heritage Weekasala aqel
A cultural forum where the past comes to life
By Mary Sayej, Technical director for Birzeit 7th Hertage Week
Have you ever wanted to travel back in time, to when your grandmother and grandfather lived? Walking down the alleys and tight streets of an old town, gives you a thrilling feeling of being connected with your past. Visions of the precedent livelihood of our mothers and fathers, the smell of sage burning around a hearth made to boil a pot of tea, flashbacks of stories you heard about cooperation during olive picking season, the taste of freshly baked Mana’esh and a simple life founded on sharing the laughs and sorrows!
For the past six years, Al Rozana Association has opened this chance of communicating with the essence of the Palestinian heritage through the activities held during the Heritage Week at the houses, attics, courtyards, and alleys of the old town of Birzeit.
Birzeit Heritage Week is not simply a cultural or heritage event, rather it is an experience to be lived. For 5 consecutive days and nights, the old town of Birzeit will become vibrant with life, lightened up with children voices as they run through the alleys, and heart opened for youth dances to the sounds of dal’ona, and dabkeh. Birzeit old town will stand in pride to shake hands with its guests and visitors coming from different Palestinian cities and abroad. It will rejoice to the chats of men and women longing to meet each other and to glorify its beauty and charms.
Guests and visitors wait this countryside event from one year to another; there have been incidents where Palestinians in the Diaspora arranged their visits to Palestine during the time of the event, to be able to share this experience with their families and connect their children with their homeland. In fact, this year’s Birzeit Heritage Week is overlapping with the activities of the 12th National Convention for Birzeit Society in Diaspora to be conducted in Birzeit for the second time… a memorable family reunion to be.
“My Country … My Heritage”…a vow that we kept for the past 6 years whereby we invited other nations to share and to exchange with, seeking a ceremony of world cultures to promote coexistence, tolerance and humanity. This year, a Euro Mediterranean exhibition from Italy, Spain, Greece, Tunisia and Jordan will be another icon of Heritage week corners besides the International Hosh area. The Souq booths will be filled again with women and artisans’ productions from surrounding rural areas extending from Sabastia in the north to Hebron in the South. Golan Heights cherries and apples will be carried fresh from the mountains despite checkpoints and Walls. The Souq theatre will flourish with Dabkeh dances of surrounding villages as well as with children plays and clowns’ activities. Birzeit heritage week Character “Amti Touteh” an old Birzeiti lady in traditional Thob will glow through all heritage week media productions and publications, as she will be entertaining our guests during the Palestinian traditional wedding Zaffa at the opening ceremony. Amti Touteh will also sponsor the 2nd year tradition of Zahret Reef Competition “The Flower of the country side” where young girls representing countryside families and villages compete with their Palestinian dresses and knowledge of their heritage during the 2nd day of the heritage week.
Birzeit 7th Heritage Week will take place between the 23rd and 27th of June, 2014; in cooperation and partnership with a number of Birzeit and other Palestinian community organizations, not forgetting our Palestinian communities inside 48, including Nazareth, Ramleh, Ara and Arara with their artistic groups and arts productions, all in commitment to rural development in Palestine. Birzeit Heritage Week, a building pillar of Al Rozana Association vision has tailored a well functioning Palestinian cultural festivity in the old town of Birzeit; aspiring to become a renowned model for other rural communities to follow for sustainable development based on available cultural and architectural heritage…a model that deserves nomination as the capital of Rural Palestine.
On this land there is what deserves to be lived for, come and join us…your presence among us will fulfil our joy