Luwiebdeh Spring Carnival

الإثنين 17 آذار 2008

Written by: Saleem Ayoub Quna Photography by Ogba Faraj

Jabal Luwiebdeh’s reputation as a quiet and peaceful residential neighborhood in the old part of Amman was heavily contested Saturday afternoon, March 8th, as more than 1500 people, mostly children and youth, took to its streets to mark the second anniversary of Luweibdeh Spring Carnival.

The parade, led by a mounted patrol of six policemen, started at Paris Square and proceeded on in the main streets of the Jabal up to the National Gallery Park where it took a U-turn to end on the playgrounds of the Terra Sancta School. The participants walked to the beat of drums and bagpipes performed by the Mountain Lions’ Scout Troupe and the tunes of a four-member local French band. A third scout group from Ibn Rushd private school in Zarqa joined the procession while enthusiastically chanting and dancing all along the way.

A three-meter-high brown human-face Muppet striding in midst of the crowd created a joyful atmosphere along the 1.5 km path of the parade. Many residents, taken by surprise at this sudden commotion in their neighborhood, watched the parade from their balconies and windows and snapped some shots before it vanished.


“This is the kind of street festival, little known in Jordan, which is open for all ages and backgrounds to spontaneously and voluntarily participate in one way or another,” said Francois Xavier Adam, director of the French Cultural Center. “Without the full encouragement and support of other Jordanian institutions such as the Greater Amman Municipality, the Haya Cultural Center, the Police, Civil Defense and the Association of Friends of Jabal Luweibdeh and many others, we could not have done this.”

To give the carnival more “raison d’etre” and theme, it was meant to mark the end of grey cold days of winter, symbolized by another huge ugly Muppet (Mr. Carnival) and celebrate the arrival of spring with its blossoms, warmth and signs of revival of life. The tradition of the carnival goes back to ancient times when framers celebrated the gifts of nature and good harvest.

“This type of popular event is a good opportunity for different businesses in the Jabal,” said Omar Zainab Al-Fa’ouri, the Mukhtar of Luwiebdeh and manager of Bazaar Al-Khayyam. “It should enhance its image as a cultural, tourist and commercial center in old Amman“.

According to Hayat Al-Nasser, President of the Cultural Association of Friends of Luwiebdeh this cultural manifestation engages residents in public life in their neighborhood.

A Yamani elderly man dressed in his traditional outfit was among the marchers and took some photos. He was one of many Yamanis who usually take temporary residence in Jabal Luwibdeh for medical treatment in Jordanian hospitals. “I have never seen any thing like this before,” he said. “I find it very nice how people here, Jordanians and foreigners, interact. I will always remember this beautiful day”.

But the endorsement can never be unanimous. One bookshop owner complained about the number of people participating. “It was more organized last year,” he said.

At the parade’s final stop, the ugly (Mr. Carnival) representing bad memories and everything related to failed experiences of the previous year, was waiting to be tried by a panel of children judges. He was sentenced to death by setting him on fire before the watching and excited crowd to the tunes of music and chanting dancers.

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