The Moulid el-Nabi.

This is the Arabic term for the celebration for the Prophet's Birthday. As trying to sleep was a waste of time, I thought I may as well go out and find the source, you never know, there may be a picture waiting to be taken!!!!!

Lo and behold, when I turned onto the main street, I could see the lights at the place where, surely, the music was emanating from. I was right, of course. As far as I could see it was over the railway crossing, still on our street, near Mr. Gomar's house. For those of you who are not aware of Mr. Gomar, I'd better tell you a little bit about him..........

Mr. Gomar, one time tailor, son of a revered local philanthropist, also a renowned tailor. Somehow, Mr. Gomar turned from being the son of a relatively wealthy artisan into a destitute galabaya maker! When we met him (about 12 years ago) he was living in his "factory", a small apartment of three rooms. One room was packed with the family belongings, one was the living/sleeping room and the other was a scullery of sorts. There was also a toilet. (about which you DO NOT want to know, trust me!) He lived there with his lovely wife and three sons. We used to visit him there, and have wonderful meals cooked by his wife, as we sat on a pile of egg boxes fastened together with string, and have long talks about everything, but always about "the God". He knows that we are Christian, but even though there is a huge gap between us, there is also some "connection" which I am unable to explain away.

Anyway, we eventually learned that this was not really his house! His house (or more correctly what had been his house) was about a three minute walk away, across the railway line, it had fallen down during a rainstorm. I was devastated to hear this, and resolved there and then to do whatever I could to help him rebuild it. In the "factory", he and his family all slept together on a tiled floor with only a few old blankets to cover them. His boys were steadily growing and it wasn't good for them all to be sharing the same small sleeping space. It took a while to scrounge cash from friends and business colleagues, but eventually I gathered enough for him to rebuild. There wasn't enough to plaster the walls, or do a proper job of the wiring, but it was habitable and it meant that they could again have beds to sleep on etc. He's a very emotional man, and I have seen him shed many tears.

He's also a bit of a sheik, I think. He administered healing to Freda's finger once. To cut a long story short, she had damaged her ring finger and the joint had swollen badly and it was mishapen and pained constantly. Gomar took her hand, asked her mother's name and chanted some gibberish (to our ears) which must have been from the Quran, and within a second or two the swelling had gone, as had the mishapenness and the pain! He also got her some potion, from a hermit in the desert, which fixed her knees after years of pain. He's what might be termed "a bit of a dark horse".

He now spends his days sitting in the tourist souk, smoking , drinking tea, and assisting the odd tourist to spend their money a bit more wisely than they might otherwise, while also getting a small commission. My Mother has a pastel drawing of him on her livingroom wall, and it's like he was there!

That's Gomar for you, but back to tonight's tale. As I walked up the street, I came upon Gomar's middle son Mahmoud. He's turned into a fine young man, about 17 I would say. I asked him if his father was there and he answered that he was. I was quite pleased, as I really didn't fancy "intruding" on whatever I found when I got there. The gathering was right outside of Gomar's door! He wasn't actually in sight so I sat on the steps to his door and watched, despite being beckoned to sit on the dikkehs arranged for the spectators. After a while Gomar appeared, and went into the house to get us some tea. I haven't yet told you what was going on, have I?

It was a Zikr! This is what the real "Whirling Dervishes" do. It's not a show, but a religious ceremony of sorts. Here in Luxor they don't "whirl"; instead they stand and throw their heads, turning from side to side in time with the deafening music, and eventually arrive at the same place as the Dervishes, which is a trancelike state in which they believe that they are in direct communion with Allah, a sort of "nirvana" I suppose. Anyway, after a while, a small boy was filming it with his telephone, so I thought "Why not?" Here is the result, only they went on for several hours. Our next guest, Melanie, arrives in time to see the last night of this, I'm sure she's going to love it.

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