Monday, 31 July 2017

Music & Festivities In Nicaragua

Everything about Nicaragua is vibrant, colourful and dramatic; the landscapes, the wildlife, the people and, of course, the festivals and celebrations that occur throughout the year. From intense religious procession to the quiet beauty of poetic verse; Nicaragua's events calendar is as diverse as the country itself.

SAN JERONIMO

The longest festival in Latin America's festival calendar; San Jeronimo is celebrated for around 80 days in the town of Masaya – Nicaragua's cradle of culture. Officially, the festivities are only meant to last eight days, but this is Nicaragua we're talking about – it's not the sort of country that does things by halves. The last day of September is when things kick off and the figure of Masaya's patron saint, San Jeronimo, is removed from its place in the church and paraded through the town. As he is carried by triumphantly, the streets burst to life with music, dancing and general frivolity to create a party atmosphere that won't calm down again until the end of November. That's right, three whole months of fireworks and street parties; you might just need to extend your trip.

INTERNATIONAL POETRY FESTIVAL

Each year in February, revered poets from all over the world descend upon the city of Granada in celebration of the power of the written word. Granada, with its colonial architecture and fascinating history, is the perfect backdrop to this cultural festival. As you can imagine, hearing the words of such famed poets echoing along streets that have been plundered by pirates and ruled by colonialism is quite an inspiring experience. Whilst the main focus of the celebrations is, of course, poetry, other talents are also showcased and appreciated. Singers, dancers, musicians, artists and theatrical performers all get a chance to shine, making this festival a great all-rounder.

PALO DE MAYO

Often referred to as Nicaragua's biggest and best street party, Palo de Mayo occurs throughout the month of May and is best observed in the small town of Bluefields on the country's Caribbean coast. The celebrations get under way on the first of the month, when local communities host their own smaller festivities including foodie fairs, art exhibitions and a range of contests. Fast forward to the last Saturday in May, however, and Bluefields is transformed into one giant carnival. Live music, dancing, local cuisine; it's all happening here. Then, on the last day of the month, locals say a special goodbye to the May celebrations by performing a traditional Tululu dance in different parts of the city. A fascinating insight into local culture and a great excuse to party.

CRAB SOUP FESTIVAL

The Crab Soup Festival takes place on the beautiful Corn Islands, so the promise of white sand beaches and azure waters should be enough to pique your interest in this vibrant affair that's held in commemoration of slave emancipation. Big Corn and Little Corn Island host the celebrations on different days but it's always at the end of August and both follow the same pattern of events. To begin with, the island is woken at sunrise by a live band playing in the back of a truck to ensure they're up in time to watch the emancipation parade. Then, as lunch time comes round, everyone feasts on crab soup and enjoys dance performances, horse races on the beach and the election of the island's beauty queen. It's a wholly Caribbean affair that illuminates the diversity of Nicaragua's cultures and traditions.

*culled from www.blacktomato.com

Morocco Holidays and Festivals

There is no shortage of Morocco holidays and festivals and tourists throughout the year are bound to stumble upon one street party or another. Some have a spiritual foundation, like the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music, but most are simply a celebration of people, art and culture. A prime example is the Marrakech Popular Arts Festival which highlights the country's most unlikely performances.

Marathon des Sables

Held every year in April, the Marathon des Sables (Sand Marathon) is an extremely challenging race which takes place in the harsh Moroccan Desert. More than 600 competitors from around the world engage in this six-day test of endurance and will. More than just physical fitness, the marathon is also a test of survival skills as all competitors are required to carry their own equipment and make their own meals.

The Rose Festival

A treat for the senses, the Rose Festival is a gorgeous and aromatic event which is held every year in Kalaa de Mgouna in May. Home to the largest rose water distillery in the country, every year around harvest time the town celebrates with dance and music.
The Fes Festival of World Sacred Music
An event that takes place annually in June, the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music brings together the most well-known spiritual dances and songs. From whirling dervishes to chanters and mystics, it's an intriguing look into culture and customs.

Essaouira Gnawa and World Music Festival

June is the month to celebrate music in Morocco as another extravaganza is held in Essaouira. This festival revels in the traditions of Gnawa — a fascinating mixture of African rhythms and acrobatics, which are open to the public.

The Marrakech Popular Arts Festival

This national festival showcases the best of Morocco's alternative arts. From folk singers and fortune tellers to snake charmers, fire swallowers and acting troupes, most of the events take place in Djemma el Fna, the main town square in Marrakech. There are several other venues all over the city.

The Imichil Marriage Festival

Held every year in August this Berber marriage festival marks the nuptials of up to forty couples. The Middle High Atlas Mountains provide the perfect backdrop for this mass love fest. Once the wedding ceremonies are over, the real fun begins when the Berber people celebrate with traditional songs and dance.

The Erfoud Date Festival

Every year in October, the Erfoud region harvests its dates and throws a large party in celebration. The three-day event is filled with traditional dances, local food and folk music.

*culled from www.iexplore.com

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Getting Married In Mauritius: 10 Things You Need To Know

So, you have decided that you want to get married on a tropical island and after weeks of fervent discussion with your loved one, you decided on an island in the Indian Ocean called Mauritius. Best decision you ever made.

Mauritius is not only a beautiful island full of gorgeous scenery and vibrant culture, but they also know a thing or two about weddings.

There are a number of administrative details to take into consideration when you decide to get married in Mauritius, but more on that later. Suffice to say, the civil marriage procedure in Mauritius is pretty simple. So long as you cross the I's and dot the T's - your wedding day will go smoothly.

Wedding packages in Mauritius
Once you have decided to get married in Mauritius, the best advice is to book yourself into a resort that has experience of hosting wedding packages. There are any number of quality hotels that offer superb deals for romantic couples. One such recommendation is Le Touessrok 5 star resort.

Le Touessrok won the prestigious World Travel Award for the World's Leading Honeymoon Destination of 2013. The obvious benefit here is that the location of your wedding will also be your dream honeymoon hideaway. It makes perfect sense and as dream destinations go, they don't get much better than Le Touessrok.

You and your guests will have full access to the superb facilities at Le Touessrok. The resort caters for every taste and possesses a wealth of leisure and sporting activities including access to the fabulous Le Touessrok Golf Course (designed by Bernhard Langer) on the Ile aux Cerfs. If golf is not your thing try a romantic sailing adventure or scuba diving in the crystalline waters of the Indian Ocean.

Try a relaxing spa before the big day
Le Touessrok also benefits from the presence of the Givenchy Spa, offering his and hers pre and post wedding treatments. You can luxuriate with facials, hamman (Turkish steam bath), massage and aromatherapy to name a few of the treatments available that will enhance your special occasion. The hotel will arrange your hair and make-up and prepare a trial session well before your big day.

No wonder lovebirds flock to Mauritius

Another consideration for wedding packages in Mauritius is the contemporary Hotel Ambre. It's a stylish 4 star resort with facilities that fall within a reasonable budget. The rooms are chic and modern - spiralling off a central courtyard. The bars and restaurants are top notch and all rooms have sea views, so if you are having guests in attendance, they will be suitably impressed by the surroundings. Many of the spas and other amenities are still available to you at neighbouring resorts for you and your guests to enjoy.

Wedding coordinators in Mauritius
Which ever resort you choose, ensure there is a coordinator on hand to help you organise your dream wedding. They will give you invaluable advice, finding you the right location, setting your special event at the most opportune time of day; a sunset wedding on the beach sounds pretty special.

Let the wedding coordinators handle a percentage the organisation, leaving you free to focus on your holiday. You want your time in Mauritius to be as care-free as possible; all the stress of organising the event dissipated the moment you arrive on the shores of this tropical paradise. That's the whole point of getting married in Mauritius; you can leave your worries at the airport check-in.

The best months to get married in Mauritius

Mauritius may be a relatively small island but conditions vary from region to region because of the landscape. However, when Mauritius enjoys average yearly temperatures of 23 degrees you can see why this island frequently rates in the top 5 beach wedding locations.

October is one of the best months of the year to get married in Mauritius. It has the lowest rainfall figures and pretty near perfect temperatures - plus the highest sunlight figures.

If you are planning your wedding in Mauritius you will also find May an attractive option. It's a pleasant month at the tail-end a hot summer season and the beginning of the Mauritian winter. Although temperatures are beginning to cool, it's still a warm time of year for tourists.

If you are thinking about getting married on a boat on the water or even underneath the water (it has been known) then rest assured that even in winter the Indian Ocean stays a comfortable 21 degrees rising to 27 degrees in summertime.

In winter the average temperature in coastal areas is about 22 degrees rising to steadily to 32 degrees at the height of summer. The coastal region tends to be approximately 5 degrees hotter than inland areas.

The north and west of Mauritius are regarded as less blowy than the south and east where the trade winds are stronger, lowering temperatures especially in July to August.
Pay close attention to the cyclone season that occurs between January to April, which is also comfortably mid-summer, but not sot comfortable if your bridal photographs are developed and you have a face full of hair obscuring your beatific smile.

Meanwhile, the rainy season runs generally between January to March and is more noticeable in central regions. Therefore summertime is also the wet season so beware of the humidity factor and choose cotton and silk garments. Stay away from lace because sand and lace do not mix.

Ten things to remember about getting married in Mauritius:

1) Check to make sure you are the only wedding happening on your resort on that day. This is your big day, remember.

2) Do not rush the process. You need at least 6 weeks to organise a wedding in Mauritius. The best advice is to allow six months to prepare for every eventuality.

3) Before getting married in Mauritius the authorities require couples to have their birth certificates re-issued and dated within 3 months of your wedding date, saving you precious time processing documents with the Supreme High Court.

4) All weddings in Mauritius will be conducted in English, unless previously requested.

5) Your wedding will of course be legal back home in the UK.

6) If you have been divorced longer than 10 months you will need a copy of your decree absolute.

7) Two witnesses over the age of 18 are required by law and can be arranged for you upon request.

8) Always arrange travel and medical insurance to cope with life's unexpected occurrences. Do not leave anything to chance.

9) October is the best month of the year in Mauritius because it has the lowest rainfall figures and pretty near perfect temperatures. Avoid July to August, which is when the south-easterly trade winds blow strongest, lowering temperatures and playing havoc with wedding photography.

10) Just because you are getting married in Mauritius, remember you do not need to get married on the beach. You can be married in a church as well as by civil registrar. Remember that your resort will also have several specific locations on hand for you to choose and they will vary between manicured green lawns in botanical gardens or a sumptuous interior location within the hotel. These are important considerations because sand plays havoc with lace wedding dresses and that windswept look is not an attractive proposition for everybody.

*culled from www.sunresortshotels.com

Mauritius Holidays and Festivals

The Mauritian community is made up of people of various faiths, particularly Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, and Christian, which contribute to the many festivals and events that take place throughout the year. The bulk of Mauritius holidays are between late December and early April.

Chinese New Year

This annual Mauritius celebration takes place in late January or early February at the beginning of the Chinese lunar calendar. Events include feasting, fireworks and parades with lion and dragon dances. The main events take place in China Town, Port Louis.

Thaipoosum Cavadee

This Tamil Hindu festival takes place annually at the cusp of January and February. It sees devotees, many with pierced tongues, cheeks or with limes hanging from their skin by hooks, bearing ornate cavadees to the temple while in a trance-like state.

Maha Shivaratree

During late February or early March, Hindus from all over Mauritius dress in white and walk to collect holy water from the volcanic Grand Bassin Lake.

Independence Day

Held on March 12 each year, this festival is for Mauritians to celebrate independence and the foundation of the state in 1968. The day is a national holiday full of parades, special events and patriotism. Most of the action takes place on the waterfront of Port Louis.

Holi Festival

This colorful Hindu festival takes place in February in Mauritius, celebrating a good harvest with parades, music, dancing, and by throwing colored powder and water on each other for luck.

Ougadi

This Hindu festival in mid-March celebrates the new year of the Telegu Indian ethnic group with cultural shows, prayer and giving sweets.

Easter

Mauritius has a large Christian, predominantly Catholic population who celebrate Easter in early April in much the same fashion as other parts of the world with church services, parades and chocolate eggs.

Father Laval Day

Jacques-Désiré Laval came to Mauritius in 1841 to work as a healer and missionary. He was the first person beautified by Pope John Paul II. On September 9, Father Laval's birthday, Mauritians of all faiths head to his tomb in Sainte Croix, Port Louis to pay respect to this symbol of love and compassion.

Eid-Ul-Fitr Festival

Eid-Ul-Fitr usually takes place towards the end of September and is a Muslim festival celebrating the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Break the fast celebrations include prayers, feasting, gift-giving, and charity.

Diwali

The annual festival of lights, Diwali, is celebrated by the large Hindu population of Mauritius to mark the triumph of good over evil. It takes place in late October or early November and is characterized by cake eating and the lighting of candles, electric bulbs and earthen lamps.

International Kreol Festival

Established in 2005, the International Kreol Festival is a four day event taking place in early December to celebrate Creole culture in Mauritius. Activities include traditional dancing, music and games, culminating with an all night grand concert on the final day.

Christmas

The Christians of Mauritius celebrate the birth of Christ with Christmas on the December 25. Expect to see decorated trees, gift giving, singing, and church services.

*culled from www.iexplore.com

Mauritania - A Country Where Women Overfeed Themselves For Beauty's Sake

Women in some cultures have not been able to free themselves from the patriarchal clutch. They have to lead their life according to the desire of male whims. The West African country named Mauritania has a strange rule for women that are contrary to the general concept of feminine beauty. While the women, all over the world, are trying to tone down their body fat, the Mauritanian women are asked to put on weight. The men of this West African country find bulky women appealing and attractive. There is no market for the slim girls here and women must overfeed themselves in order to find a groom.

According to the tradition of Mauritania women who are slim, do not belong to well off families. They are believed to be poor and wretched. Fattiness is equaled to opulence. A survey of the backward countries prove beyond doubt that even today women are seen as possession and a girl who is not capable of bringing good dowry or gifts to the husband's house is seen as a burden. Lack of education and empowerment among women is the main reason behind their deprivation. This practice is referred to as Gavage. Women are seen as properties and the fatter they are the higher gets their value in the marriage market. Women who are force fed by their family members are called Leblouh.

Tradition or Trend?

Fattening women for marriage has become a profession in Mauritania. It seems people are ready to cash any malpractice for the sake of money. There are so-called professionals in this African country who help girls of tender age bulk up. They get paid for their services. Young women have started to protest against the traditions but fattening girls at a tender age has become a trend in Mauritania that will not die so soon.

Young women are forced to join beauty training camps from the tender age of 7-8. They are fed fattening foods throughout the day without any stop. Young women in their twenties weigh more than 200 pounds. The process of force feeding is gruesome. In some fattening camps girls are beaten up with whips and canes on refusing food and they have to eat their own vomit once they throw up. They suffer from several health issues due to their body mass. But still not much has been done to stop this disturbing tradition.

*culled from www.instablogs.com

Mauritania Holidays and Festivals

Mauritania is still developing its festival culture, but there are a few religious events and Mauritania holidays worth noting. African Liberation Day is a continent-wide celebration of unity and provides a great opportunity for travelers to learn more about the region's history. There are also cultural and religious festivities like Diwali for the Hindu community.

African Liberation Day

Every year on May 25th, Mauritania celebrates the anniversary of the founding of the Organization for African Unity, known today as the African Union. The day is memorable around the continent and is sometimes called "Africa Day" for short. It is marked by conferences, exhibitions and displays celebrating the different African cultures in the country and beyond.

Tabaski

One of the most important holidays on the Islamic, and therefore Mauritanian calendar is Tabaski, a two/three day event in October commemorating the Prophet Ibrahim's willingness to sacrifice his first-born son to God. The festival is also known as the Feast of the Sacrifice because participants slaughter a sheep, mimicking Ibrahim's final actions in the biblical tale. The meat is divided amongst friends and family during feasts across the country.

Diwali

Held annually in November and celebrated by the Hindu community living in Mauritania, Diwali is a Hindu celebration of light over darkness and good over evil. It signifies the arrival of spring each year as the community bids farewell to winter. Events are generally held at Hindu temples in the capital of Nouakchott and are characterized by the lighting of lanterns and tea candles, which illuminate the city. Invariably, there are also many festivities after the religious rituals including dancing, music and fireworks.

National Independence Day

Mauritania celebrated its independence from France in November 1960. National Independence Day is an important marker of liberation not only in Mauritania, but also on the African continent as a whole. The day is a public holiday so travelers should expect most things to be shut down as citizens partake in the day's festivities.

*culled from www.iexplore.com

Mali Holidays and Festivals

Nowhere are Mali's many distinct cultures more proudly displayed than during the country's numerous festivals. A large percentage of Mali holidays take place in February, including Segou's Festival on the Niger and Timbuktu's Desert Festival, two of the country's biggest celebrations. During one of Mali's most unique events, all the residents of Djenné descends upon the Great Mosque to help apply fresh mud to the community's most famous landmark.

Gouin Festival

This three-day January festival takes place around the normally quiet region of Gouina between Kayes and Bafoulabé. Goumbé and jazz musicians perform among the monkeys and hippos that live in the region teeming with wildlife. The event also features five different Kayes dance groups, craft workshops and Senegal River walks past the waterfalls.

Festival-on-the-Niger

This Segou February festival is filled with music, dance, puppet shows, workshops, craft vendors, and pirogue boat races along the Niger River. No fewer than 15 of the Segou's unique puppetry and dance styles are represented, which also attracts many of Mali's famous musicians. Wood carvings, paintings, sculptures, and photographs from the country's most talented artists are displayed in galleries around the region. Actors, musicians and puppeteers accompany centuries-old legends that Segovian storytellers share beneath the balanzan trees.

Desert Festival

This lively February music event's location may have moved from Essakane to Timbuktu, but the likes of Robert Plant and Justin Adams still perform alongside some of Mali's most talented Tuareg musicians. The Desert Festival evolved from a traditional Tuareg gathering filled with lively discussions and fun to an international event of peace. To this day, festival attendees celebrate the 1996 Flame of Peace ceremony when over 3,000 firearms were burned in Timbuktu. Unlike many other music festivals, the stage is surrounded by nothing but desert and the audience remains still and quiet. The more lively parties begin at nearby discos during the wee hours of the night.

Diamwari Festival

The Diamwari Festival has been one of Mopti's main events ever since it was held for the first time along the Bani River's banks. A weekend of "happiness," as the word translates in English, takes place for three days toward the end of February. The festival features gigantic puppets from Djenné, Dogon masks and at least four different dance troupes. Visitors can purchase unique crafts from Mali's talented artisans. The winners of the festival's pirogue race receives money and victory flags called jonjon.

Daoula-Ba Festival

The word ba means "big" in English, and this festival held in the village of Sôh every March certainly lives up to its name. Organic cotton, Sôh's largest export is front and center with many of Mali's most important dignitaries getting guided tours of the village's organic cotton looms while costumed theater performances entertain the children. The festival's highlight, however, may be the women's colorful drum circle dances.

Dogon Mask Festival

This April festival is among Mali's most famous gatherings. The masks the men wear during these five days represent Amma, the Dogon goddess of creation, and are believed to contain the souls of the dead and drive away evil spirits. Toward the end of the event, buffalo and hyena masks are believed to predict the tribe's future.

Plastering the Great Mosque

Each year, an imam announces the date between late April and early May when the entire population of Djenné gathers to apply fresh mud to the city's historic Great Mosque. The mud is prepared in pits with young boys helping to stir it by playing in it. Women and girls bring water to the men as they carry and carefully apply the mud to the mosque. Afterwards, all of Djenné celebrates with a gigantic feast filled with dancing and drumming.

International Rails Festival

Mali may presently have no passenger rail service, but this three-day festival still takes place each June in Kayes, the "City of Rails." Train conferences and debates are held alongside dance performances, concerts, cycling races, and wrestling matches throughout Mali and neighboring Senegal.

*check it out www.iexplore.com

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Malawi Holidays and Festivals

Malawi holidays and festivals showcase the country's traditions and religion through music, art and dance. The best-known event internationally is the Lake of Stars, an annual four-day music festival attracting thousands of overseas visitors every October. Other important celebrations relate to the state itself, with Republic Day one of the favorites.

Chilimike

The Chilimike celebrations are Malawi's New Year festivities, enjoyed on January 1 as a public holiday. As in the rest of Africa, the revelry begins on New Year's Eve with street parties, traditional music, fireworks and lots of eating and drinking.

Martyrs Day

Martyrs Day is held annually on March 3, which commemorates those who lost their lives during the struggle for independence which began with the uprising against British colonial rule.

Easter

Christianity is the dominant religion in Malawi, with Holy Week its major festival. Held in March/April depending on the Gregorian calendar, the period is marked by processions and church services, and Good Friday and Easter Monday both public holidays.

Kamuzu Day

Malawians are very proud of their comparatively new country, with Kamuzu Day in May a celebration of the life and work of their first President, Dr. Kamuzu Banda.

Republic Day

Held in July, Republic Day is a national holiday for Malawi people to celebrate its emergence as a democratic republic on July 6, 1964.

Malapenga Dance Season

Beginning in August, the Malapenga Dance Season is a traditional celebration of one of Malawi's most iconic dance forms. Exhibitions take place all over and are some of the most-loved demonstrations of the country's rich heritage.

Lake of Stars Festival

Held along the shore of Lake Malawi in October, this spectacular four-day event is featured on the global music festival calendar, showcasing both Malawian artists and international guest bands with styles ranging from reggae, Afropop and traditional folk to famous global DJs. Proceeds are donated to local charities.

Blantyre Arts Festival

This newly created event takes place every November in Malawi's largest city and showcases traditional and modern theatre, dance, poetry and the visual arts in venues across the area.

Christmas

The Christmas season in Malawi is a joyful time for families, gift exchange and church services. Carols are sung a-capella, with the iconic African gift of harmonization filling the air with beautiful sounds celebrating the birth of Christ.

*culled from www.iexplore.com

Madagascar Holidays and Festivals

Pop culture is seen in vibrant Madagascar holidays and festivals throughout the year all over the country, with many events attracting a significant number of tourists. The celebrations are based on a variety of traditions ranging from holy days to cultural rituals and national holidays, with the Santabari festival and Donia Music Festival two of the favorites.

New Year's Day

The Malagasy people celebrate New Year's Day along with the rest of the world from midnight on December 31 through January 1. Family visits, eating out and street parties mark the occasion.

Alahamadi Be

Alahamadi Be is Madagascar's traditional New Year's Day, which takes place in March and lasts for two days. Crowds hit the street in celebration, homes are decorated in lights and friends and family visit to wish eachother well. Traditional music and dance plays a part in the festivities.

Martyrs' Day

Also held in March on the 29th, Martyrs' Day commemorates the 1947 rebellion against French colonial rule which eventually led to Madagascar's independence after thousands of lives had been lost. The day is a public holiday in which the dead are memorialized for their sacrifices.

Easter

The most important Christian festival of the year, Easter falls either in March or April, and is marked by religious services at Madagascar's many churches and cathedrals.

Santabary Festival

The Santabary Festival is ancient in origin, and takes place in late April/early May to give thanks for the year's first rice harvest. Eating, drinking, traditional music and dance are all part of the celebrations, and local customs vary across the country.

Labour Day

Labour Day, held on May 1, is a national holiday, with city folks taking the time to visit the countryside and beaches for picnics and a day of relaxation.

Independence Day

Independence Day in Madagascar is June 26, a national holiday which commemorates the country's final shaking of colonial rule. It's celebrated all across the archipelago with feasting, drinking, music, and dance.

Feria Oramena

The carnival atmosphere of Feria Oramena held in June focuses on Madagascar's favorite seafood, lobsters. Shows, exhibitions and lots of fish dishes are enjoyed by all.

Fisemana

The Fisemana festival, held by the Antakarana people, is a purification ritual taking place every June. The customs go back centuries and are performed by local soothsayers.

Famadihana

This traditional event, known as the turning of the bones, is a three-month family-oriented ritual beginning in June in Madagascar. The bodies of recently-passed family members and ancestors are taken from the crypt, re-dressed in silk shrouds and reburied.

Hiragasy

This much-loved July event is a traditional form of entertainment in Madagascar, first seen in the 18th century. Competing players perform a five-themed spectacle of oratory, dance, music, drinking and eating contests amid much merriment.

Donia Music Festival

Held in September at the Hell-Ville Stadium on Nosy Be Island, the Donia Music Festival is a combination of Malagasy music, sport and cultural events. The festivities last for a full week and draw in over 40,000 spectators.

Madajazzcar

October's Maddajazzcar is a massive, two-week long celebration of jazz held in venues all over the capital. International musicians, singers and thousands of visitors attend the events.

Christmas Day

The second major Christian festival in Madagascar, Christmas is a time of church services, Yuletide parties and family festivities across the country.

*culled from www.iexplore.com

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Libya Holidays and Festivals

Many of the Libya holidays and festivals focus on tradition, culture, Islamic holy days, and the anniversaries of important development in the country's history. Most of the events are based around Tuareg and Berber societies and are a real treat for visitors fascinated by the desert dwellers and their incredible history. Favorites include the Ghadarmes Festival and the newly-introduced Liberation Day, marking the fall of Gaddafi.

Acacus Festival

Held annually between December and January in Libya, this unique event takes place amongst the spectacular scenery of the Jebel Acucus basalt monoliths in the heart of the Sahara. Expect a variety of musical performances at sunset, breaking the stunning silence of the great desert and giving an iconic atmospheric experience.

Nalut Spring Festival

The March Nalut Spring Festival is another traditional celebration in Libya featuring local cultural events and performances including parades as well as nightly dance shows. The setting in the mountainous Jebel Nafusa region adds to the charm of this three-day event.

Zuwarah Awessu Festival

The hot summer season in beachside Zuwarah welcomes this August festival based on age-old pagan rites including ritual sea bathing for tribes and their animals. Once performed nude, the bathing portion of the ceremonies has been adjusted to suit the Islamic moral code and now features clothed swimming and sailing races as well as folk dances, music and traditional foods.

Eid el Fitr

Eid el Fitr is the three-day, fast-breaking festival held at the end of the holy month of Ramadan during which Muslims fast from sun-up to sundown. It's held according to the Islamic calendar, with the dates shifting between summer and autumn for the joyous, family and food-oriented celebration.

Ghadames Festival

The three-day Ghadames Festival takes place every October and is one of the best-loved Saharan celebrations of the Tuareg and Barber people living in Western Libya. Expect feasting, dancing, musical performances, horse and camel races and other traditional contests, with the heart of the old city turned into a vast market for newly-harvested dates.

Liberation Day

The newly started Liberation Day is held on October 23, the exact day in 2011 when the Libyan people broke free from the tyrannical rule of the Gaddafi family. It's a national holiday, marked in Tripoli and across the land with gatherings in Martyrs' Square and other city and town centers.

Islamic New Year

The Islamic New Year falls around November depending on the Islamic calendar and is widely celebrated as a national holiday. Visits to mosques and family time are highlights.

Ghat Festival

The dates of the three-day Ghat Festival alternate annually between November and December, but its setting in an ancient Tuareg oasis medina ensures an unrivalled cultural experience. Expect camel races, a huge outdoor market selling everything from crafts to livestock, music, dancing and feasting as highlights.

*culled from www.iexplore.com

Liberia Holidays and Festivals

One of the joys of festivals in Liberia is that everyone is welcome to join in, irrespective of the occasion. Christian, Muslim and cultural events are enjoyed by everyone, whatever their beliefs or tribal cultures. Two of the Liberia holiday favorites, Christmas and Eid al Fitr, are a cause for celebration in every corner of the state.

New Year's Day

The hallmark of all Liberian festivals is the enthusiasm with which they're celebrated, with New Year's Day a shining example. Expect parties, musical performances, dance, song, traditional drumming, lots of eating and drinking and fireworks and bonfires on both New Year's Eve and Day.

Easter

Christianity is the major religion here, with Easter its main holiday, celebrated in March/April according to the Gregorian calendar. Church services and family get-togethers are the main events, and aren't restricted to the community as all are welcome to take part in the fun.

Independence Day

Independence Day falls annually on July 26, which is a national holiday. Monrovia hosts official events and parades, and parties across the land.

Eid al Fitr

The Islamic festival of Eid al Fitr brings an end the holy month of Ramadan, held during July or August depending on the Islamic calendar. It's a joyful event celebrating the end of fasting with free-flowing traditional food and family gatherings throughout Liberia.

Thanksgiving Day

As a result of the freed slaves from America's southern states, Thanksgiving is still celebrated in Liberia on November 4 in honor of the link between the two countries.

Monrovia Children's Day Festival

Held every November in Monrovia's Sports Stadium, the Children's Festival brings together thousands of young people from Liberia to celebrate their country's achievements. Interactive games, sports contests, live music and celebrity performances mark the occasion.

Christmas

Christmas on December 25 is the nation's favorite holiday, with preparations for the big day lasting weeks in advance. It's a secular and religious event, with Liberia's Muslims celebrating with special meals and family get-togethers, and Christians attending church services.

*culled from www.iexplore.com

Monday, 24 July 2017

Lesotho Holidays and Festivals

Lesotho holidays are centered around Christianity and the rich heritage and culture of the country. There are also celebrations of independence, and events linked to the troubled times leading up to the political stability of the present day. The two favorites in all Basotho are the Morija Arts and Cultural Festival and King Moshoeshoe I's Day.

Moshoeshoe's Day

On March 11, Bosotho people get together in celebration of the life and reign of Moshoeshoe the Great, Lesotho's first king who died in 1870. A great leader and talented diplomat, the king was responsible for the preservation of much of the cultural heritage still thriving today, as well as the establishment of Christianity through his welcoming of European missionaries.

Family Day

Family Day in early March is a celebration of one of the pillars of the country's culture. Family get-togethers involve workers returning to their villages for the day to eat, drink and have a great time.

Easter

Easter week, usually in April, is the year's most important religious festival, with all the usual parades, church attendances and family get-togethers. Most Basotho take their Christianity very seriously, with Easter Sunday a day of pure joy.

Morija Arts and Cultural Festival

The favorite event in Lesotho, the Arts and Cultural Festival, is held every September or October for five days in and around the capital. It is a feast of theater, poetry, dance, music, song, crafts, art exhibits, and everything in between. The festival showcases performances of jazz, modern music, African movies, and much more, and draws tens of thousands of visitors.

Independence Day

Independence Day, which falls on October 4, celebrates the country's release from British colonialism and its emergence as a free state. The day is a national holiday, celebrated all over the little country with traditional events, costumes, songs, dance, and musical performances. The city streets and villages come alive with revelers, while the Lesotho Royal Family greets foreign diplomats and important visitors from other African countries.

Lesotho Jazz Festival

The Lesotho Jazz festival takes place in the capital every December, attracting musicians from other southern nations as well as from all over Lesotho. Jazz is popular all over Africa, with this event focusing on music as an integral part of social development. Set in the heart of the tourist season, the event draws spectators from many countries.

Christmas

Almost all Basotho are Christians, with the faith's religious holidays celebrated in true African fashion with church services, family gatherings and the glorious full-voiced African harmonies used in full effect in a capella Christmas hymns. Midnight mass on Christmas Eve is a not-to-be-missed experience.

New Year

The welcoming of the New Year takes place with typical African enthusiasm, involving street celebrations, fireworks at midnight and parties all over town.

*culled from www.iexplore.com

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Weddings In Angolan Culture

As with many African countries, the Angolan culture constitutes a number of different tribes. Naturally, Angolan weddings and traditional marriage practices will and do vary from tribe to tribe and culture to culture.
Both monogamous as well as polygamous marriages are seen in the cultures of Angolans but the traditional wedding is pretty much the same regardless.

You can most definitely integrate some of the Angolan culture into your own wedding. Well... maybe not the whole polygamy part... but more so the other cultural elements.
Among the Eumbo (or Ambo) people, the "wedding consultant" walks the couple through the steps of their traditional Angolan marriage ceremony. In your case, I guess, I will serve as your own personal wedding consultant!

As a show of his willingness to marry their daughter and desire to be accepted into her family, the groom-to-be will spend time working in the bride's father's fields and farms. He will also perform various household chores for her mother.

Groom-to-be doing some farming chores...

It is also customary in Angolan weddings for his family to give gifts to the girl's family. Nowadays however, if the groom-to-be has a regular day job, he will give clothing and gifts to the girl and her family in lieu of working in the farms, fields and around the house. Your guy can take a trip down to his local mall and get this particular task done very effectively and efficiently. You of course can help out by dropping hints about what your favorite stores are so that you can be sure to get items you'll like and use.

Polygamy among the Eumbo is considered to be superior to monogamy and the husband must
"visit" all his wives equally. Once he is ready to marry a girl, the man will select an older woman in his family - usually either his paternal grandmother or his father's sister - to train his wife-to-be on how to be a good wife.
On the actual day of the wedding, the wedding consultant will carry the bride on her back to the groom's house ...of course if she can't physically carry the girl then she will simply walk with her to the groom's dwelling place. Yes, from organizing the engagement to carrying the bride to the wedding chamber, the wedding consultant plays a major and crucial in Angolan culture during the wedding ceremony and after. She even checks up on the couple the morning after their first night of marriage to ensure that all went well.

Off to join the groom!

It is the groom's duty to prepare the matrimonial bed. Leaves from the negwelulu tree are spread on the bed as these are believed to intensify sexual excitement.

After the wedding, the groom and his new mother-in-law are not allowed to meet again until after the couple's first child is born.

If you laugh at your mother-in-law, you'll get dirt in your eye.

- Kenyan proverb

Marriage In Algeria - A Different World

In many Arab countries, marriage brings great respect to those getting married. In those countries, such as in Algeria, marriage is considered a sign of maturity. According to Islam, women cannot be forced to marry anyone without their consent. However, one's parents have as much of a say, as the children do, in who their children marry.

During the engagement, parents buy gold, clothes, kitchen and household needs for the woman and wool to make mattresses for the man. These items are called a shoura (shur'-ah). Before the wedding there is a party at the bride's house where all the relatives work to meet the guests' needs.

The man will buy gifts for his bride and her mother as a sign of love and respect for her and her family. After the party, the bride leaves her parents' house in a fancy car followed by other cars, including some which display her shoura. This shows all people how greatly she is loved by her family and husband.

During the marriage, both men and women have distinct roles. Husbands are required to provide financial support and protection. The wife is required to take care of the children and make sure the house is running smoothly.

Though it seems like marriages and marriage life in Algeria goes so smoothly, many of the procedures and laws are disputed.
One of the issues is polygamy. In most North African countries polygamy is allowed and practiced. The rate at which it practiced greatly varies between the countries. In Algeria polygamy is rarely practiced. Only about 2% of Algerian men are married to more than one wife. Even though it so rare, it is a big issue- two out of three women are for the abolition of polygamy.

The issue incest is also a widely discussed issue in Algeria. Algerian society has a preference for marriages between cousins. It is an old tradition that is still followed but which is disliked by 1/3 of Algerian women.
Throughout North Africa, the legal age for marriage is 16 years. However, many girls are married off before the age of 16. This is very common in Algeria- couples have traditional marriages before the age of 16 and when they reach the legal age, they get married in court. Early marriages are a lot more common in rural areas than in urban areas.

Divorce is quite common in North Africa. Generally men have more rights in initiating a divorce, but women have informal ways of getting out of an unhappy marriage. In Algeria, everything, except the bride price, owned by a couple belongs to the husband. Not only does all the couple's property go to the husband, the custody of the children is also given to the husband. So in the case of a divorce, the woman would walk away with only the bride price, leaving everything behind with her ex-husband.

Some of these facts show how there are two faces to Algerian marriage life. Even though to some people it may seem perfect, when looking more deeply into it, one may discover that there are some inequalities between women and men.

Kenya Holidays and Festivals

Kenya celebrates a number of national and regional events and festivals throughout the year, usually connected to religion, historical events or African arts. Music, food and dance feature heavily in the celebrations, which usually emphasize family, community and unity. The vast majority of the population is Christian, so the major religious Kenya holidays of Easter and Christmas are also public holidays. The country's 11 percent Muslim population means that Islamic traditions are also observed, mainly near the coast, which had a historically stronger Arab influence.

East African Arts Festival

In March each year, Nairobi hosts the East African Art Festival, the biggest of its kind in the region, which attracts competitors and spectators from around the world. The three-day event showcases art, music, theater, music, fashion, literature, architecture, sculpture and traditional crafts. It is hosted by the Kenyan National Museum.

Easter

In Kenya, Good Friday and Easter Monday are public holidays, marking the long weekend commemorating Jesus Christ's crucifixion and resurrection. Good Friday often sees processions through the streets with dramatic recreations of the Stations of the Cross, culminating in church services. Saturday often involves a bonfire outside the church and the lighting of candles and prayers inside, with Sunday being a feast marked by singing, bell-ringing, church services, and family togetherness.

Eid al-Fitr

Eid Al Fitr is an Islamic celebration that usually takes place in September, when the sighting of the moon marks the end of the Muslim holy month of fasting during Ramadan. Eid celebrations usually involve personal cleansing, communal prayers, charity donations, and three full days of feasting and spending time with friends and family. The celebrations are biggest along the coastal areas where most of the Muslim population of Kenya lives.

International Camel Derby and Festival

The annual International Camel Derby and Festival has been held on the outskirts of Maralal town in northern Kenya since 1990. The main feature is the camel racing which takes place over several days through semi-desert regions and is open to amateurs and novices. Visitors come from all over the world to take part or watch, and there are also cycle races, donkey rides, children's entertainment, and the opportunity to rent a camel for the day. The derby usually takes place in August.

Mombasa Carnival

November is when the city of Mombasa celebrates Kenyan culture with a carnival by the Indian Ocean. Artists, dancers, musicians and tribal people flock to take part in the concerts that make up one of Kenya's largest annual events. One of the major features is the main street parade with floats that showcase the different tribal identities across the nation. There are street stalls and opportunities for eating, drinking and dancing.

Jamhuri Day

Jamhuri means "republic" in Swahili and December 12 is set aside as a public holiday to celebrate Kenya's becoming a republic in 1964. The date is doubly important as the country also gained independence from Britain on December 12, 1963. The occasion is marked by dancing, parades and a speech from each of the eight Provincial Presidents. Many towns also host cultural performances, while families will often get together for meals. Fireworks are often a highlight and air shows have become popular in modern times.

Christmas

Kenya's many Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ on December 25, which is a public holiday. The events are largely religious in nature, featuring church services, caroling and nativity performances. Houses and churches are decorated with balloons, flowers and green leaves and storefronts in the larger towns are bathed in fake snow. If parents can afford gifts for the children, it will often be books, practical items or a new outfit for attending church. Families get together to attend services then enjoy a feast, usually of roasted goat.

New Year

New Year celebrations begin the evening of December 31 with parties, music and church services, leading up to the midnight countdown which sees fireworks, music and cheering to welcome in the New Year. Church services and non-religious parties take place all across the nation, many of which continue after dawn. Nairobi has the biggest event, with musical performances and fireworks displays. Mombasa is known for its New Year beach parties, often hosted by local radio stations with live music and DJs.

*culled from www.iexplore.com

Friday, 21 July 2017

Cote d'Ivoire Holidays and Festivals

Festivals in the Ivory Coast are often a celebration of cultural traditions. With a good number of the population adhering to the Muslim faith, religious events related to Islamic beliefs are widely observed. Côte d'Ivoire Holidays also include celebrating different pieces of history, many of which are characterized by festive parades and colorful performances.

Carnival in Bouaké

The Ivoirians version of Mardi Gras, this week-long carnival is one of the most well-attended events in the Ivory Coast. It is held in Bouaké in March each year.

Fête du Dipri

This eccentric April celebration is held in the town of Gomon, where people perform different kinds of rituals in order to exorcise and drive evil spirits out of the village. The event starts at midnight and continues until late afternoon the following day.

Independence Day

Ivory Coast's Independence Day is celebrated on August 7 each year to commemorate the country's liberation from France. The event is marked by all kinds of cultural activities, lively performances, parades, and other festivities.

Fêtes des Masques

The most popular of all the Ivory Coast events, Fêtes des Masques, or the Festival of Masks, is an annual event held in November. It is a time to pay homage to the forested spirits embodied by the villagers who wear colorful costumes and masks. The celebration is held in the northern region in the town of Man.

Christmas Day

Christmas Day (December 25) is celebrated by local Christians with all-night church services that start on Christmas Eve (December 24) and end at 6:00 a.m. During worship, you can expect singing, group dancing, poetry recitation, skits, testimonies, prayers, and a sermon. Ivoirian Christians do not exchange gifts on Christmas, they wait until the new year to signal good prosperity.

Islam-Related Holidays

Major Muslim holidays are celebrated and observed in the Ivory Coast. These include the period of fasting known as Ramadan and the post-Ramadan feast known as Eid al-Fitr. Tabaski, or the Feast of the Sacrifice, is observed by religious families. The event dates vary according to the lunar calendar.

*culled from www.iexplore.com

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Guinea Bissau Holidays and Festivals

Cultural festivals, Guinea-Bissau holidays, religious celebrations and other traditional events are celebrated throughout the country. Most local festivities such as the Guinea-Bissau Carnival are centered around art and music, while religious rites are devotedly observed by those who adhere to Muslim, Christian and other indigenous beliefs. Most events do not have set schedules.

Muslim festivals

Like the rest of the world, Muslim festivals in Guinea-Bissau are timed in accordance with the different phases of the moon. Ramadan, which precedes Korité, is a month-long fast. There is a huge meal to mark the end of the season. The Feast of the Sacrifice is another widely celebrated Muslim event.

Festival de Bubaque

Held in the Bijagós Archipelago, the Bubaque Festival is a colorful event that celebrates the local music scene. It attracts musicians and personalities from all over the country to perform all kinds of Guinean music. Dates need to be confirmed as there seems to be no fixed time for this event.

Guinea-Bissau Carnival

The local Carnival features exciting programs that showcase great Guinean talents, ethnic traditions and cultural presentations. It is a big celebration that takes place annually at Easter time for about four days before Lent. Guineans enjoy traditional dances accompanied by instruments and people dress up in flamboyant costumes crafted from leaves, cow horns and shells. Parades take place on wooden boats and big trucks in this unique celebration.

Movimento Hip Hop Festival

West African countries are big on music, and the Movimento Hip Hop Festival is just one of the many sought after events in Guinea-Bissau. The first festival was held in May 2009, but dates need to be confirmed for future shows. Artists from all over the nation and neighboring countries participate with lyrics that often discuss the political and social issues of the region.

*culled from www.iexplore.com
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