Monthly Archives: February 2012

Rai music

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Raï is a music style that originated in Oran,Algeria in the 1930’s,from Bedouin shepherds. It appealed to young people who sought to modernize the traditional Islamic values and attitudes. Regional, secular, and religious drum patterns, melodies, and instruments were blended with Western electric instrumentation.

Singers of raï are called cheb (shabab, young) as opposed to sheikh (shaykh, old), the name given to Chaabi singers.

In the 1980s, raï began its period of peak popularity. Previously, the Algerian government had opposed raï because of its sexually and culturally risque topics, such as alcohol and consumerism, two subjects that were taboo to the traditional Islamic culture.

The government eventually attempted to ban raï, banning the importation of blank cassettes and confiscating the passports of raï musicians. This was done to prevent raï from not only spreading throughout the country, but to prevent it from spreading internationally and from coming in or out of Algeria. Though this limited the professional sales of raï, the music increased in popularity through the illicit sale and exchange of tapes.In the 1990’s, restrictions were placed on raï, and those who did not submit to censorship faced consequences such as exile.

The first musician with international success in the ’80’s was Cheb Khaled followed by Cheb Mami.

Later in 1990’s,  funk, hip hop, and other influences were added to raï, especially by performers like Faudel and Rachid Taha, the latter of whom took raï music and fused it with rock. Taha does not call his creation raï music, but rather describes it as a combination of folk raï and punk.

Henna/mehendi tattoos

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Henna is a flowering plant used since antiquity to dye skin, hair, fingernails, leather and wool. The name is also used for dye preparations derived from the plant, and for the art of temporary tattooing based on those dyes.

Henna powder

For skin dyeing, a paste of ground henna (either prepared from a dried powder or from fresh ground leaves) is placed in contact with the skin from a few hours to overnight. Henna stains can last a few days to a month depending on the quality of the paste, individual skin type, and how long the paste is allowed to stay on the skin.

Henna kit

The Night of the Henna was celebrated by most groups in the areas where henna grew naturally: Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Christians and Zoroastrians, among others, all celebrated marriages by adorning the bride, and often the groom, with henna. It was also used for celebrations as birthdays, circumcision or religious one such as: Eid, Diwali or others. When there was joy, there was henna.

Henna was regarded as having “Barakah”  blessings, and was applied for luck as well as joy and beauty. Brides typically had the most henna, and the most complex patterns, to support their greatest joy, and wishes for luck. The fashion of  “Bridal Mehendi-Henna tattooing”  in Pakistan, Northern Libya and in North Indian Diasporas is currently growing in complexity and elaboration, with new innovations in glitter, gilding, and fine-line work.

Bridal henna designs

Henna patterns