Friday, April 20, 2007

there are certain things in life which we love, certain sounds, certain images, and certain smells.

i love the smell of bukhoor and washag (incense) or as my Somali friends call it 'onsi', i love coming into my house and being hit by the smell of bukhoor. it makes it so homely and gives it such a clean feel.

its always the last thing we do after cleaning the house, and the first thing we do just before guests come.

being brought up with this ritual has made me in touch with my roots back home as well as my Arab roots full stop.

my mum taught me the importance of having a nice smelling house and i will pass this knowledge on to my kids inshallah, and they will pass it on to theirs and so on and so forth...

washag is Libyan, we always get a little bag of this magic from Libya, and its place is in the kitchen, because right after washing the dishes and cleaning the cooker, out comes the washag.

as you can see in this picture, each Libyan household has a little metal thing ontop of the cooker to put the washag in, our handle is broken but still comes in very handy, my mum would be very embarrassed if she new i had put a picture up of her broken washag thing but i think it's unique and has become a fond member of our family, where would we be with out youuuuuuuuuuuuu.

Bukhoor is the name of the fragrance smoke created by the burning chips of Agarwood or pieces of mix fragrance ingredients bind by sugar-syrup, when burnt slowly, produces a more concentrated smell. These chips are burnt in Bukhur burners to perfume the surrounding and clothing specifically on occasions in all seasons

i remember when the only bukhoor we had was the stick incense and 9 out of 10 times they stank or had such a powerful odour, and they came in different colours bu the main colour was the dark red, as a child i used lightening them up and pretending to smoke them, pathetic i know... now they come in different smells and sizes, you can even get fruit smells liek coconut!!!

Bukhur alters the moods to bring peaceful, tranquil, refreshing, uplifting & inspiring feelings apparently, and that's why you always hear Libyan old woman saying its good for the soul and will always say 'bakhreeeeeeeeeee'.

my mother collects bukhoor, she has a treasure chest of the stuff as you can see from this picture, if you want to make her happy you give her bukhoor as a gift.

the thing the chest is resting on is a bikhoor stand and so is the red and gold item, she has them plastered around the house.

i just love the smell and its such a relaxing meditating ritual, the whole burning of the coal, then placing the coal into the mabkharah (holder) and then putting bukhoor on top and blowing onto it and watching the perfumed smoke spread and walking from room to room with the mabkharah and then eventually placing it somewhere as it dies down.

the amount of times i have burnt my fingers as well as clothes messing about with the coal is countless, i still do burn my fingers, you would think i would Be immune by now to any burning.

my parents come back today so i obviously had to the round of cleaning and what not, so out came the bukhoor, I'm at work at the moment and i swear typing this up i can smell bukhoor, we humans are so funny you can say a certain word and your mind will make you believe you can smell it lol.

in some cultures, when guests come over, one way of telling them its time to go is to bring out the bukhoor, its a nice way of saying 'home time'.


DaMoon said...

I swear white african, u r more libyan than some libyans living in libya "i.e myself" gosh, what's next? it's henna, sahlib, bsesa and now Bkhoor!!! I rest my case hehehe not all da bkhoor types I love; I don't know da name of da one I love "wshag" we call it...but I rather smell it at weddings and big occasions I am totally impressed by ur cultural god bless u ya haboba

Anglo-Libyan said...

unfortunately I suffer from severe migrains occasionally which makes me bakhour enemy number one!
saying that, my wife loves bakhour but she is having to do it when im out so yes we do have a metal thingy just like yours :o)

my friends keep telling me that i must be touched by the devil because I hate bakhour,you know if i go to their houses and i can smell bakhour i just start opening windows and having ago at them for putting bakhour when they knew i was coming... lol

a_akak said...

Damoon: you would be amazed to know that the Libyans outside of Libya tend to hold on to there traditions more than the people in libya

W.A: I am offically your biggest fan and i might open a "White African" fan club :P anyway but i wont agree with you on "bukoor" as me and my brothers have banned it from home although my mother loves it but i was the "brotherhood of a wshag" that won and battle, however, I have my own "Bukoor" at my flat and it smell of Apple and Mint and Rose and guess what they call it :P ................... Irgeela

white african said...

damoon :) they say that when you live in the ghurba you end up sticking to the rituals more for fear of forgetting them so yeh cultural insanity looool.

anglo you are one of those who get migrains from bokhoor, dont worry bout it there are loads like you, maybe you should form the socitey for the prevention of bukhoor SPB, a whole new movement can begin lol.

akak :) now now you know irgeela is not the same as bukhoor, bukhoor is a class of its own, the upper class, the king or queen of all smells.

irgeela has a unique smell but i prefer bukhoor

DaMoon said...

I can smell m3asl tifa7 ya ahmed,

Red Head said...

We Use The Red Incense Sticks N Shaf & Bilal Pretend They're Smoking Too =P

Anonymous said...

i remember shaykh hamza saying the reason we all like nice scents is because it reminds the nafoos of paradise. it's also a sadaqah so everyone who comes into your house, and appreciates the smell, insha Allah you'll be rewarded.

Ever The Idealist said...

WA I want one of them things. I am sick of burning the oonsi when I feel like having some nice smell that reminds me of my Hoyo when I am doing these crazy shifts.

Are we still on for picnic if weather holds?

Lebeeya said...

I am not a big Bukhoor fan. I am one of those people like Anglo that get really bad migranes be it from Bukhoor, smoke or any kind of dukhan!

Yesterday my mom made a sa7lab cake and I thought of you :)

white african said...

lol @ red head, you brother nd sister sound cool.

ever will be happy to offer some of our bookhoor, but we dont have the stick ones anymore, weve gone up in the bukhur circle lol.

well.... about the picnic, i forgot that i have a media metting in birmingham today, so im afraid im going to have to postpone my attendance at the picnic for another time, sorryyyyyyyyyyy i was looking forward to it to.

leebeya you too huh, the soicutey against bukhoor seems to be growing lol.

lucky youuuuuuuuuuuu sa7lab cake mmmmmm my mum sometime sdoes it and its the best thing since sliced bread, i awlays have a slice for breakfast, have a slice on my behalf :0)

white african said...

oooooooooops forgot you their annon, thank you for that reminder, the prophet's houshold would also make there house smell nice through the burning of bukhoor.

Brave Heart said...

Haja WA, I wonder if u wear جرد or no, cos u seem to live in misrata not in manchester.
i'm happy to tell u i have the bukhor gene, i didn't missed.
hudullih ala slamt ur family

Monday's Child said...

You made me want to smell all those aromas you described!!!

Anonymous said...

You have to be careful cuz it may cause COPD and even lung cancer for certain types.

amena said... household is so un-Arab...maybe that's got something to do with being only half Arab...but still its a shame coz it's these little things that make a home all the more friendly and welcoming...that's why I love going to my friends house coz her house seems like urs :o) ah well, my sister tries with her cooking and stuff hehehe...

white african said...

brave allah islmak, they came back safely alhamdullilah.

i have a picture of myslef wearing a jard in misrata, i stol eit of my great aunt and wore it for like 10 minutes, maybe one day i will blog about it lol.

do you bakhir your house brave?

monday i wish i could invite you over to test the smells on you an dyou can tell me which ones your favourite, if your ever in manchester, then you have an invitation :)

annon seriously cancer? wow, i guess these days every thing causes cancer.

amena you can have the best of both worlds, th earab part and your other part so cool :)

Lady_WildKat said...

Salaam all,
a_akak you cant be WA i have dibs on her already, her number one fan is me and she has quite a following in mcr!

i love Bukhoor, but only nice ones like in WA house, the really strong ones give me migraines!

and ETI, WA what picnic ladies? you guys free 2mrw to hook up?

Brave Heart said...

r u kidding WA? HOW i can bakher my house if i can't clean it, tabkhier is a very far stage for me now

white african said...

wild kat you get migrains as well, my god this society is growing bigger.

the picnic was supposed to be at the park near my house but i had to go to birmingham booo hooo hooo.

next weekedn inshallah :)

brave tabkhir il 7osh can be the first step lol

cofman said...

Hey Waf,
Thanks for sharing … I should say that every time I write something here … forgive me .. will ya ???

You say “ a little metal thing on top of the cooker to put the washag in ”
My mother puts the stuff ( btw, she has many different things … not only bo7’oor & washag …, no… she has god knows what … a guess? Maybe 5 or 6 different things you can burn … maybe for different ‘agendas’ she has in mind … lol …. Protection against Envy is one of them lol )
But she uses Kanoon, not the cooker …. I still remember the kanoon … no idea why ..

This one ya Waf is interesting,
“ in some cultures, when guests come over, one way of telling them its time to go is to bring out the bukhoor, its a nice way of saying 'home time'. ”
I understand what you say; ie politely indicating it is time we said goodbye … But where does this ‘signal’ comes from?
Or how … ok, let me put it this way:
If I were at your home, enjoying the meal, shahi, sa7lab even …, ok ?? and you start burning the thing, right?
Well, I don’t think I will leave because I like the smell, and – I say to myself – these people actually like me, otherwise why would they put this nice smell ?????
So, I will stay

I mean where does this sign language come from? And what will you do if you get someone who doesn’t understand that ‘language’ ???
Or are you going to tell them “ Oh … ???? sorry, I didn’t explain that in our culture when we burn this smell, it means PLEASE leave Immediately ????

white african said...

hey coff, the older ladies do prefer kanoon to cooker, even for cooking shahi, i gotta say it does have its own taste.

my grandmother is like a book on remedies and herbs and what not, last time i was in libya she wa scooking gauva leaves, apparently its good for high blood pressure?

good question coff but i gotta say its not really part of our culture its more a khaleeji thing, i guess it works when every one knows the rules but like you said what if they have a guest who isint aware about this aspect of the cutlure, what then? i guess the hosts yawn and stretch their arms to indicate there tired lol.

with libyans we usually give fruit as the finnally.

mani said...

LOL@fruit for finale.. a huge plate of fruits...little plates with little knives.. maybe some fruit slices in juice.. some fostoq...

if the guest dosent have to7'ma by then, u need the bokhoor, or a polite.. go home lol