The Unique Culture of the ULFA
“COLORS OF AN OLD GLOBE BEACH” recreates the lost glories of Beirut’s ancient souks district with snippets of authentic horse racing events, familiar Beirut’s old shawls, and colorful costumes from the sixty-year-old folkloric culture of the old Beirut. The vibrant colors, rich detail, and realistic animation of this DVD make watching the colorful booths and racing action visually more alive than watching a favorite Hollywood movie. Even the colorful animated scenes do not over-stretch the real architecture, since the footage is actually filmed inside the sportbooks themselves. This realistic recreation of the old and picturesque Lebanese culture is therefore not entirely unrealistic, but totally enthralling.
“COLORS OF AN OLD GLOBE BEACH” tells the sad story of a traditional Beirut folk festival called Baba Seghir, held every 5th April. In addition to Seghir itself, Baba Seghir is also a gathering of souks that converge on the old Medina City, all featuring their own cultural traditions, music, food, prayers, and feasts. Presiding over these vibrant, colorful events are a series of workshops organized by a local women’s group called the Sayyida Zuha. Among these workshops is the entertaining but informative “GOLDEN SWEEP” (golden thread) workshops, which focus on ancient Islamic practices of weaving.
Themes throughout “COLORS OF AN OLD GLOBE BEACH” trace the colorful history of Beirut, while also showing how, through the ages, the city has evolved into a multi-cultural center of entertainment, learning, scholarship, and progressive thought. One of the most striking sequences focuses on the relationship between the ancient Suqama and the prophet Muhammad. In Suqama, one can see a man being called upon to recite verses from the Koran; however, each participant is also expected to perform some sort of dance or song, to accompany the recitation. This ritual then takes place in both Seghir and Baba Seghir, taking place at different times, during two separate days. In both scripts, the curtain rises and lowers in a single dramatic motion, highlighting the unified theme of unity, honor, peace, and dhikr.
Seghir and Baba Seghir are not the only two similar workshops in Ras Shamran, which also focuses on religious themes; other workshops in Ras Shamran include an Islamic Candle Festival and a Russian Christmas. However, unlike Seghir and Baba Seghir, in which both speakers use a car, or voice recording of Qur ‘an passages, in Ras Shamran only one participant uses a qara; this ritual is referred to as “ta ‘ziqara.” Far from a “rehearsal,” both Seghir and Baba Seghir share the same goal of building unity between Islam and Russia; however, due to differences in the theological underpinnings of Islam and Russia, the two ceremonies to take place at different times, with different dancers.
Although both Seghir and Baba Seghir focus on the themes of peace and dhikr, their hymns differ: in Baba Seghir, the participants stand for a pre-dedicated song and the lyrics revolve around a single theme, whereas in Seghir, the participants stand silently, while the lyrics revolve around an appropriate event (such as a delivery of a baby). While the exact reasons remain unclear, some scholars believe that these differences are due to the fact that Seghir was created by an ethnic minority in the ufa republic whereas Baba Seghir was created by a Caucasian ethnic group. The lack of direct communication between the ufa leaders and their counterparts in Russia may also have led to the Seghir’s unique creation; the exact chronology is unknown.
Today, the Taj Mahal, built by Shah Jahan in Agra, is the most visited tourist attraction in northern India. The Agra Fort and other fortification structures of the ufa empire can be seen across the street from where tourists get a taste of Taj Mahal’s history. In fact, the name of the Taj Mahal has been derived from a poem by Shah Jahan, who was the ruler of the Mughal Empire. The UFA is also believed to have inspired the concept of partition, as it was strongly opposed by the Russian leadership, which preferred to preserve the territorial integrity of the Russian Empire. The unity of the ufa state, which included its incorporation of numerous cultures, allowed the spread of its culture throughout the country.