The culture of Bahrain is part of the historical region of Eastern Arabia. Thus, Bahrain’s culture is similar to that of its Arab neighbours in the Persian Gulf region. Bahrain is known for its cosmopolitanism, Bahraini citizens are very ethnically diverse and Bahrain hosts people from a variety of places such as India, Pakistan, Iran, Egypt, Malaysia and others. Though the state religion is Islam, the country is tolerant towards other religions; Catholic and Orthodox churches, Hindu temples as well as a (now-defunct) Jewish synagogue are present on the island.
People and heritage
Bahraini people are ethnically diverse. There are at least 8-9 different ethnic groups of Bahraini citizens. Shia Bahraini citizens are divided into two main ethnic groups: Bahrani and Ajam. Most Shia Bahrainis are ethnic Baharna, the Baharna being descendants of the original pre-Islamic inhabitants of Bahrain. The Baharna speak a variety of Arabic known as Bahrani Arabic. The Ajam are ethnic Persian Shias. Bahraini Persians maintain a distinct culture and language, but have long since assimilated into Bahraini culture; they tend to identify themselves as Persian Bahrainis rather than Iranians.
Among Sunni Bahraini citizens, there are also many different ethnic groups. Sunni Bahrainis are mainly divided into two main ethnic groups: urban Arabs (al Arab) and Huwala. The urban Arabs are mostly descendants of Sunni Arabs from central Arabia who were traditionally pearl-divers, merchants, sailors, traders and fishermen in the pre-oil era. The Huwala are descendants of Sunni Iranians; some of them are ethnic Persians, and others are ethnic Sunni Arabs.
In addition to these native Bahraini ethnic groups, there are also ethnic Afro-Arabs, Balochis, Indians and ethnic tribal people[clarification needed]. Bahraini Balochis are descendants of ethnic Baloch from Iran. Most Bahrainis of African origin come from east Africa and have traditionally lived in Muharraq island and Riffa.Indian Bahrainis are mostly descendants of wealthy Indian merchants from the pre-oil era, known as the Bania. A smaller group of Sunni Bahraini citizens are descendants of naturalized Palestinian refugees and other Levant Arab immigrants.
Arts, music and dance
Arts include readings of the Quran, ceremonial dances accompanied by flat drums, and storytelling. The poets of Bahrain are famous for their poetic verses and carry on established traditions while also exploring new themes. Births and marriages call for wide-scale celebrations in Bahrain, which often are a pleasure to take part in. Apart from this, the people of Bahrain are also known for their artistic skills, the boats used for fishing and pearling, being an example of this craftsmanship. The traditional jewelry also speaks volumes about the intricate designs that the people of Bahrain can come up with.
Khaleeji is a style of Arab folk music from the Persian Gulf area, played in Bahrain with polyrhythms. The style is strongly influenced by the music of Africa. The Bahraini pearl diving tradition is known for the songs called Fidjeri. Fidjeri is a musical repertoire performed traditionally by male pearl divers of Bahrain. It involves singing, clapping, drums and dances with earthen water jars. Liwa is a type of music and dance performed mainly in communities which contain descendants of East Africans, such as Muharraq and Hidd.
The music of Bahrain follows the traditional mode. It is elaborate and repetitive. It is played on the Oud (an ancestor of the lute) and the Rebaba (a one-stringed instrument). Bahrain also has a folk dance tradition. The Ardha is a men’s sword dance, which is accompanied by traditional drummers and a poet, who sings the lyrics.
Bahraini man wearing the Ghutra and Agal.The traditional Bahraini woman dress is an abaya, a long loose-fitting black gown, worn along with a black cloth on the head called the hijab.The thobe (or ‘dishdasha’ in Kuwaiti) is a loose, long-sleeved, ankle-length garment. Summer thobes are white and made of cotton and winter thobes are black and made of wool.
The ghutra is a square scarf, made of cotton, and is folded in a triangle and worn over the keffiyeh. In Bahrain, it is usually red and white checked or all white. There is no significance placed on which kind the man wears in Bahrain, although this selection has implications in other Persian Gulf countries.
The keffiyeh is a white knitted skull cap worn under the Ghutra.
The agal is a thick, double, black cord that is worn on the top of the ghutra to hold it in place.
In some occasions, Bahrainis wear a bisht, which is a cloak made of wool, over the thobe. Unlike the thobe, the bisht is soft, and it is usually black, brown, or grey.
Although the celebration of Qarqe’an shares superficial similarities with the Halloween custom of trick-or-treating, practiced in some Western countries, Qarqe’an has no connection with horror and no associated origin with Halloween.; the first of which being the 1990 drama film The Barrier by Bassam Al-Thawadi. Cinemas have been popular establishments since the early 1920s when a makeshift movie theater was formed.three-fifths of the largely Asian labor force is foreign.
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