Celebrating Palestinian Traditional Dress Day in al-Bireh. (WAFA Images / Mohammad Farraj)
By Mohammad Najem
AL-BIREH, June 30, 2018 (WAFA) – What started as a response to Israel‘s cultural appropriation, turned into a multi-day annual event during which Palestinians travel back to times when heritage was a way of life and clothes told the stories of their owners.
About 200 women and some 50 men marched from the municipality square in the center of Al-Bireh city, in the central West Bank, wearing traditional dresses to celebrate the symbol of Palestinian culture and a form of art and a language of expression.
Four years ago, June 30th has become known as the Palestinian Traditional Dress Day. Women and men walk the streets in colorful dresses singing traditional Palestinian songs that celebrate nature, land and love.
Lana Hijazi, one of the coordinators of the Palestinian Traditional Dress Day, told WAFA that a major motive for the day was attempts by Israeli models to hijack the Palestinian dress and reintroduce it as an Israeli tradition on international runways and in showrooms.
Hijazi said, “Another goal is the need to enrich the Palestinian visual archive with photos of the traditional Palestinian dresses for both men and women.”
The organizers of the event chose the slogan “Wear your [traditional] dress, like nobody else”, because they believe Palestinian traditional dresses are unique and so diverse.
Hijazi said Palestinian dresses are elegant, timeless and varied; each dress has a story and represents a certain area.
“As such, our heritage manifests in our dresses. Our life is on our dresses and we will not allow the Israeli occupation to one day steal our heritage. We will always be proud of our Palestinian dress.”
Qaysar Jawabrah, from Asira e-Shamalia village near Nablus, in the northern West Bank, drove all the way to Ramallah just to take part in the event. He said, “This is our heritage and we will never abandon it.”
Rayhana Musleh, a refugee from the village of Deir Tarif, which was ethnically cleansed by Jewish militias in the 1948, also known as the Nakba said, “I take pride in being a Palestinian. Therefore, I preserve my Palestinian heritage because it represents my ancestors.”
Lamis Khaled, who comes from the same village, said, “We are conveying a message to the Israeli occupation that we are here and we will defend our Palestinian identity. We love our heritage and we are proud of it. We will preserve it to the best we can.”
The event will continue until the 25th of July. Similar marches with take place in Battir, Hebron, Sebastia, Tulkarem, Qalqilia, Jericho and Salfit.
The next event in Battir in Bethlehem will include a traditional wedding ceremony with women and men dressed in the traditional Palestinian dress.