Tag Archives sweets

Nasfah Halawa – ناصفة حلاوة and Ramadan Kareem

Nasfah Halawa – ناصفة حلاوة and Ramadan Kareem

The Nasfah, a celebration conducted on the night of the 15th of Shaaban, is a happy occasion in Bahrain and the rest of the Muslim world. It is an occasion to celebrate the pending onset of Ramadan – which is only half a month away, and also the birthday of Imam Mahdi, the 12th apostle of Shi’a Islam and who is one of the grandsons of the Prophet. He is highly revered by Shi’a muslims.

The word “Nasfah” loosely means “half” or the divisor, pertaining to it’s occurrence in mid-Shaaban, the month immediately preceding Ramadan.

On the Nasfah, children put on fine clothes and go to as many houses in the neighbourhood as they could to collect sweets, nuts and some coins too but they have to sing for them first. The traditional song they sing is “Nasfah Halawah” which means “give me sweets” basically!

Here’s a nice manicured example of the celebration, courtesy of du in the Emirates:

And here’s my coverage of the celebration in Duraz in 2007 that I covered for one of my vlogs:

On the Nasfah, people also tend to distribute sweets to their neighbourhoods across many communities in Bahrain. The sweet which is very particular to this time of the year is called Zalabia. It’s pure sugar. Just one little bite will last you the whole day, believe me! Tasty as it is, it must be taken a little at a time if you don’t want to overdose.

My son Arif was visiting his grandmother’s in the old neighbourhood and was fortunate enough to be there by when the Zalabia distribution was taking place in that neighbourhood. He got some, but to complete the typical Bahraini experience, he also got Sun Top from the nearby cold store and brought them home to us to enjoy after lunch 🙂

zalabiya-and-suntop-01

 

Here’s how Zalabia is made (with a lovely Iraqi accent) if you feel so inclined as to make your own:

 

Bon appetite and Ramadan Kareem.

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Vlog 41: The Nasfah

The 15th of Sha’abaan, the 8th month on the Muslim Hijri calendar holds special significance to Shi’a Muslims. On that night – called the Nasfah – they celebrate the birth of their last Imam, Imam Al-Mahdi, the 12th and last Shi’a Imam who went into occultation in 939AD. It is said that on his reappearance he will establish justice in the world and save humanity.

That’s the historical perspective. The practical one is that it’s yet another reason to celebrate as a community, give the children another reason to go from door to door singing ditties and getting coins and sweets! Another one is that it marks the real count-down to Ramadhan, only 15 days hence.

This year the celebrations coincided with the 28th of August and I was determined to shoot the scenes from a couple of the nearby villages of Duraz and Barbar despite the horrendous heat and humidity on that night, and the possibility of a yet again wet camera. I knew how to crack that one!

The result is the following vlog which I hope you will enjoy.

Have a wonderful Friday my friends, and happy celebrations wherever you are.

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