Ramadan & The Perfume Rituals – An Interesting Intersect

Posted by My Perfumes Select on

The art of scent is deeply entrenched in the Khaleeji culture and dates back to thousands of years, so much so that, it assumed myriad manifestations and evolved a language of its own over the course of time that is quite unique to the region.  

The passion, knowledge and the art of perfume artistry is passed from generation to generation, as part of the proud cultural heritage and identity of the region, particularly the GCC. Khaleejis use their perfumes like no other people.

Ramadan celebration fireThe symbolic cannon fire marks the commencement of Ramadan in the UAE

Ramadan – A Religious & Socio-Cultural Phenomenon

In addition to being a religious obligation, Ramadan in the UAE is a socio-cultural phenomenon too, bringing about a marked shift in day-to-day life. It is little wonder then that these two very distinct symbols intersect at very close quarters. Come Ramadan, the perfume rituals assume a greater significance, almost a centre stage at many of the social and religious rituals.

For the unversed, Ramadan is a month of spiritual reawakening or renaissance for every Muslim, marked by obligatory fasting from dawn to dusk, congregational prayers, increased remembrance of God, and heightened sense of spirituality, charity, repentance and abstinence from all things evil.

Ramadan family tableFamily and friends congregations for Suhoor and Iftar is a very common practise

Ramadan Traditions – Majlis. Scent Rituals. Hospitality

There is a pronounced shift in social patterns as families tend to come together at suhoor (the early morning meal) and iftar to break bread and pray. Ramadan ushers in a pronounced shift in the usage of perfumes and allied products as preference for natural non-alcoholic fragrances and incense grows exponentially.

Ramadan food distributionTraditional majlis with its sit-on-the ground arrangement has survived rapid modernisation
One can see large majlis tents that can accommodate several to hundreds of people sprout all across, both as private and commercial spaces. Majlis which in Arabic means a sitting place – is at the heart of the long cherished tradition of social gatherings. People host their family and friends on regular basis and the Ramadan majlis commencing from iftar can go right into the wee hours right upto suhoor.

Mabkhara on tableWelcoming the guests with incense smoke is a tradition and a mark of respect

Burning Incense – A Mark of Respect and Welcome

The culture of welcoming the guests with the burning incense - agarwood, oud muattar and bakhoor is so central to the concept of Khaleeji hospitality, that lack of fragrant smoke while ushering guests, is considered a snub or an insult. And burning agarwood is the highest mark of respect for the guest and while also symbolising high socio-financial stature of the host.

Bakhoor is a scented pellet and Oud muattar is a term used for wood shavings. Both bakhoor and oud muattar are infused with fragrant oils and burnt on a bed of live charcoal in a traditional incense burner called the mabkhara. The oils used for infusion vary from heavy classical Arabic aromas to very modern French notes. Agarwood, the most expensive fragrant resin comes from the sapwood of Aguilera trees and is usually used by the elite.

Air freshener and oud muattar

Uplift your Ramadan ambience - Choose from an array of incense and air fresheners

Several rounds of bakhoor or agarwood burning is a common sight at Khaleeji homes as plumes of fragrant smoke is passed around, room after room, in the majlis, at the entrance and the passageways. The fragrant smoke serves a functional purpose of removing odors wafting from the kitchen as preparations to lay the iftar spread, peak towards the evening.  More importantly, it helps to create positive vibes and a warm, cozy ambience of welcome and togetherness.

Agarwood, also known as the Wood of Gods & Scent of Heavens is used to bring a sense of meditative calmness, tranquility and spirituality in addition to its exotic and opulent fragrance.

The rituals of bakhoor and agarwood are so fascinating particularly across the GCC that expat populations from across the world have taken to the tradition of burning bakhoor particularly during Ramadan.

Fragrance D’ Ambience – A Touch of Modernity

The use of modern air fresheners has gained quite a currency lately and people are using them to give more modern twists to their ambience. The air-fresheners are sprayed last to top-off the layers of incense infused air to create a signature home fragrance much like a personal signature scent through layering, another cultural phenomenon that deserves a separate blog.  

Self-Love - Groom Well. Smell Good

For personal use, people gravitate more towards natural oils, attars, dhanal oud and alcohol free fragrances. It is an Islamic and prophetic tradition to smell good while performing the congregational night prayers. While the Khaleejis are more inclined to use the luxurious and expensive non-alcoholic perfumes, attars and dhanal oud (pure oil of agarwood), expats prefer popular attars and oils. An attar is usually a concoction of several fragrant oils, usually floral, spices, leather and oriental notes. Both bakhoor and agarwood smoke is also used to infuse clothes with desirable fragrances and usually serves as a base for layering oils and fragrances.

Feel the Love. Gift Some Love

Gifting perfumes is yet another very important tradition of Ramadan and the sheer love for all things scent in this part of the world, puts them on top of the gifting list. Sprays, bakhoors, giftsets with assorted products are given and received as mark of love and respect.

At My Perfumes Select, we retail a signature portfolio of premium non-alcoholic perfumes specially curated for those who love fragrance without alcohol. Our bakhoors, oud muattar are modern twists on the traditional art of incense and the array of ambience fragrances allows you to infuse an adventurous twist to your home.

As we are about to enter the holy month of Ramadan, we wish you peace, tranquility and spiritual growth. Do keep us in your prayers as we keep you in ours.

Ramadan Mubarak to All.

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