I knew ahead of time there won’t be a “Karakala” show for it was Baalback Festivals specialty, No “Charles Aznavour” for it was Beit El Dine specialty, No “Sayf 840” for it was Jbeil Specialty, No “Fayhaa Choir” for it was Tripoli specialty. I had very low expectations for this event, but I decided to attend it just to please my Dad. He has been planning with the family jam3iyyeh for 2 months now, and my sisters and brother have applied to the cultural quiz they held. So I went. To be honest, I had no idea it’s going to be a memorable day.
It was a long drive. I never knew in Akkar other than Bebnin & Qobbat Bshemra. El Bireh is located far far away. It took us nearly 2 hours on the road and I was amazed by the views on the side ways. I’ve always heard about Kweshra Lake but never really saw it. We passed by and I got a quick photo of it but a street pole and the car speed blocked most of the sight. When we arrived @ Al Bireh the humidity disappeared and a cool summer breeze caressed our cheeks welcoming us. The program was to begin @ 5:30 we were there @ 4:00. We had all the time to explore the Serail and the surrounding area. I have seen so many old buildings in my life but I felt related to this one. That’s probably because of the black volcanic stones used to build it. My dad said it was called Biret El 7ekem; this is where “Merheb” stayed and ruled his “Imara”. It really felt majestic although it needs renovation in many parts.
It was 5:30 and the yard was full of people. All of them called each others “ebn l3am” or “bent l3am” it was weird but somehow warm. My friend Adel once asked me if I ever go to the jam3iyyeh iftars. When I told him I never did he said I advise u not to, because it’s really scary. Why? Everyone looks like u, he explained! Back then I laughed at the thought, but with this huge crowd I was among, Adel was somehow right. Everyone had common features. Full cheeks, fair skin, fair hair, & wide eyes! If u saw someone who didn’t look like u he/she sure looked like someone related to u!
When everyone was seated, the hollow voice of Mounzer Merhebi was welcoming everyone and he kept repeating “El beit baytkon”.The Biaa scout announced the beginning of the celebration by playing the national anthem and I felt so proud because Aboudi was among the musicians and he looked adorable with his Navy blue and white uniform!
After the welcoming words of Eng. Ghassan Abdullah Merhebi, and the introduction of the program it was really show time! All the crowd was to gather outside & they were led by a Zaffeh on the beats of traditional music with a Seif w teres show. A group of 6 knights on their noble steeds raced! I felt like Anna Karenina lacking the presence of my knight in shining armor! There was a part where they made the horses dance that I only saw in movies before, fe3lan kteer joli!!!
When it was the Maghreb prayer time, we went to pray in the lovely mosque. The horses were being washed and left to rest. I was begging my Dad the whole day to ask someone to let me ride a horse. I saw him whispering to the guy –also an ebn 3am- and it made my day! My Dad helped me up and I rode a horse for the first time in my life! It felt great! Farah took two photos of me and ebn l3am was expecting me to get off the horse. I asked him innocently ennou what??? Aren’t u going to make a laffeh for me? Ghasban 3annou ebn l3am took me for a jawleh 😀 I asked him about the horse’s name.Wardeh, he said. How old is she? 4. I didn’t care how rude he was. The world was mine & nothing else would matter… I left ebn l3am shouting at the little wled l3ams who started nagging and asking him for a ride too. I headed for the mosque where I saw a woman and her daughter standing. Is it scary? Asked me the mum. No, not all I smiled. The daughter said how did he let u ride? Wasta I said. She smiled, too. I felt it’s inappropriate not to introduce myself. Ymn Merhebi and the minute I said that the girl went in a sort of shock! Me too she said!!! For the first time in my life I meet someone with my same name! I started laughing… same name and last name is technically a miracle!! And if u thought this was weird, there’s more. Farah my sister introduced herself, too and it turned out that Ymn’s sister is also named Farah!!!
After the prayer we went back to where the festival was. And it was the announcement of the competition winners. Guess who won 1st prize? No not me… My sister Farah!!!! She won 500$ I was so shocked it slipped my mind to take a photo of her taking the prize!!
I didn’t really care that I couldn’t get where the buffet was. I had some bread 3al saj stolen from another ebn 3am it was very delicious! We left El Bireh @ 10:30 and arrived home @ 12:00…It was a day to remember! I guess we should never prejudge anything before we experience it… I really hope they make it an annual habit.