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Kharif Festival < OMAN EXPLORER
 

Salalah Kharif Festival

As carnival weaves magic on the streets

 

The much-awaited carnival was a runaway success with large crowds thronging both sides of the 3-km route through which the carnival participants paraded providing entertainment, music and dance

omani children in traditional dress wave to the crowds watching the carnival Pictures by Abdullah Ibrahim al Shuhi

Each year, the magnificent monsoon season in Salalah that casts a magical spell on visitors from far and near is gaining in its appeal thanks to the government's resolve to complement the natural phenomena with varied programmes that stir the interests of people. While the Municipality Friends Camp and khareef festival were introduced as part of the monsoon specialities in the previous years, the authorities thought it fit to launch a carnival and shopping festival this year to further enhance the khareef attraction. The much-awaited carnival was a runaway success with large crowds thronging both sides of the 3-km route through which the carnival participants paraded providing entertainment, music and dance. 

Girls wearing a variety of Indian saris add colour to the carnival

The crowds had taken position well in advance on the brightly illuminated commercial streets. Being held for the first time, the carnival had evoked tremendous interest among the public. Even as the carnival got under way with the inauguration by Sayyid Mussallam bin Ali al Busaidi, Minister of State and Governor of Dhofar, the 1,000 carnival participants marched through the main streets of Salalah. Each group excelled in their respective performance, including music, dance and display of national heritage, culture and traditions. As rightly intended, the carnival procession through the commercial roads of Salalah underscored the government's keenness to promote tourism as well as the role of the private sector in contributing to the tourism sector's growth, Awad Said Khawar, President of the Organising Committee of Khareef '98, said on the occasionThe carnival was also an opportunity to nurture the talents of citizens, especially youngsters. By participating in such events, young artistes were being catapulted to limelight, Khawar added.

Brightly attired girls provide the back-up clapping to a folklore troupe and, right, an Indian girl dressed in the traditional sari

As their favourite clowns and characters marched in playing antics, the excited children cheered them along. A children's train and other toy vehicles also caught their attention

The traditional snakeboat of Kerala with oarsmen file past on the main street

The participation of a team from the Omani Society for the Care of the Disabled conveyed the strong message of the positive contributions made by the disabled in nation-building, that they were an integral part of the nation and should not be viewed with prejudice with regard to their potential. The folklore troupes through their presentations reiterated the Sultanate's rich traditions, heritage and culture. The enthusiastic folklore artistes danced and sang rhythmically with the accompanying women and children attired in bright costumes. The fervour of the folklore troupes fired up the festival as they chanted eulogies in praise of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos and all the good things that make life a celebration. While some folklore troupes depicted the Sultanate's martial traditions, others stressed the aspect of the close-knit community life. 

Bagpipers of a folklore troupe play a catchy tune and, below, horsemen on pure Arabian horses march during the carnival

The folklore troupes mainly comprised youth for whom the carnival was an opportunity to showcase their talents and benefit from assistance to further improve them. Measured steps and swaying movements in circles marked the dances while harmonious chanting complemented the performance. The Arabian horses and camels which participated in the carnival lend grandeur to the show as they trotted in with horsemen. The horses wore bright blue reflectors on their heads, making the march appealing.The bands of the defence forces and the Royal Oman Police played captivating music. The bagpipers, trumpeteers and drummers no doubt gave one of their best performances. The participation of the expatriate community in the carnival was highly appreciated by the crowds. The Sudanese and Indian communities who displayed their respective heritage and culture won loud acclaims. Dressed in their national costume, the Sudanese displayed their cultural heritage with some boys sporting buffalo horns and carrying traditional weapons. 

The Sudanese community display their heritage and culture

A large representation of the Indian expatriates added colour to the carnival. They too were dressed in the various national costumes and carried banners greeting and thanking His Majesty the Sultan for his enlightened leadership. The Indian School students and Indian Social Club members made a mark of their presence in the carnival. A life-size model of the traditional snake boat from Kerala with oarsmen seated in it no doubt won the hearts of people. To the accompaniment of traditional maritime music and songs, the oarsmen seated in pairs enacted the rowing of the boat in remarkable harmony and co-ordination. The involvement of the expatriate community in the khareef festival underscored the Sultanate's tolerance of the various cultures and traditions represented by them. Through the presentation of the maritime legacies, the Indian community reiterated the similarities with the Sultanate's heritage and culture. 

An appealing performance by a folklore troupe

The carnival proved to be thorough fun time for children who were present in large numbers. As their favourite clowns and characters marched in playing antics, the excited children cheered them along. Masked men in the form of lion, dog and rabbit who rode on toy cars also generated mirth and laughter. A children's train and other toy vehicles also caught their attention. The extensive coverage of the khareef festival by the international and local media points to the stature gained by the festival over the years and its appeal to thousands of visitors who throng Salalah during this captivating season.

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