Chanting for peace for the whole world

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The Samaa festival comes this year with spiritual music from 16 countries to let people listen to see, and see to listen.

From one of the most spectacular spots in the heart of Cairo, the Saladin citadel, the Samaa International festival was launched last Saturday, in a breathtaking atmosphere, where our spirits flew high on the melody of international chanting and spiritual music, coming from all over the world just to convey a peaceful message to the Egyptian lands.

The ceremony started with reciting a verse of the Quran, and as soon as all the bands started chanting together in harmony and playing their instruments it seemed as if they could not see the audience any more.

It was as if they were in a spiritual place where they heard nothing but the music.

Afterwards, each band played separately in a beautiful show reflecting their background and their own way of worshipping God.

More than 19 bands represented 16 countries performed during the opening ceremony and will continue chanting all this week, in several locations known for their authenticity.

In cooperation with the Ministry of Culture, the Foreign Cultural Relations sector and the Couch Surfing Egypt volunteer team everyone was invited to the seventh round of the International Samaa Festival for Spiritual Music and Chanting.

This year more countries responded to Egypt’s request and came to participate for the first time, together with favourite international troupes from past years, who bring music from the Arab World; Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Syria and Tunisia, and from four continents representing Africa; Nigeria and Zambia, Europe; Bosnia and Greece, from Asia; Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia and Pakistan and the USA.

The intention of Entessar Abd el Fattah, the founder and director of the festival, is to educate audiences about the religious heritage of different countries and cultures.

The festival’s opening ceremony started with Gaber Asfour, the Minister of Culture, giving the opening speech, where he emphasised the unity of human civilisation.

Asfour pointed to the festival as a model of diversity and creative cultural richness.

The festival honoured many of the Arab world’s cultural and religious figures. From Egypt there was Said Al-Naqshabandy, the great Muslim chanter, Gamal Alghitany, Mahmoud Azzab and Patriarch Butrous Danial.

Ezz Eldin Medani came from Tunis and Thuraya Eqbal represented Morocco.

“I did not expect that this kind of music would appeal to many Egyptians, but the place was full of people and it’s very well organised. I enjoyed the Egyptian band very much.  They were full of life and the audience’s reaction to them was marvellous,” said Umut Murat, a Turkish student.

Abu Shanab band from Syria, who was participating with two bands, gained the loudest applause and admiration from the attendees, competing with the Indonesian and Egyptian bands.

The festival is being held in four different venues simultaneously, according to a pre-set schedule, which are the Saladin citadel, Qubet Al Ghoury, El Hanger Art Centre, El Moaez Street, while the closing ceremony will be held at the fascinating pyramids in Giza in a wonderful sound and light show.

In parallel with the performances, this year the festival hosts an authentic handicraft market from all over the world.

The market is located at the Citadel entrance with a variety of cultural touches, reflecting each country’s history and theme and offered at very reasonable prices.

The Festival is taking place in Cairo from  20-27 September 2014.

For more information on Samaa’s schedule and venues visit https://www.facebook.com/events/288588864679058/