Ithra spreads Eid joy with lockdown parade in EP

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Saudi Gazette report

RIYADH —
The King Abdul Aziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) marked the festive Eid Al-Fitr season this year with a colorful parade through the streets of five cities in the Eastern Province (Khobar, Dammam, Dhahran, Qatif and Sihat), reaching over 20,000 homes and 100,000 residents in 32 districts.

Eid, which celebrates the end of Ramadan and a month of fasting, is usually marked with gatherings of family and friends, plus prayers and acts of charity. However, COVID-19 and social distancing interrupted traditional celebrations and called for creative ways to make the occasion special.

This year the team at Ithra – a subsidiary of Saudi Aramco – decided to take the annual Muslim festival to the people, organizing a celebratory parade that families could enjoy together but from the safety of their own homes and doorsteps.

The parade featured colorfully decorated wagons carrying bands, musicians and fun performers, including traditional Arabic songs and dances. For four nights this week it weaved through the streets of 32 districts, and was lustily welcomed by cheers and greetings from people from their windows and doorsteps. Each wagon represented a different element of Saudi culture.

The parade included a candy wagon with performers — four cheerful mascots with colorful costumes, smiling and waving at the audience. There was also an Ardha (traditional Saudi dance) wagon with eight performers from the Saudi National Ardha group.

The parade also included a Theater wagon offering solo, duo and band performances of Sharqi style (Eastern Province music) with a Western twist. The Fisherman wagon was also part of the diverse program, consisting of five members performing the fishermen arch show atop a carnival float.

The show represents an old tradition where locals used boats for pearl diving before the discovery of oil in the Eastern Province. The performers sang traditional songs for their audience.

The team at Ithra chose to run the parade “to spread Eid joy at a time when it is much needed, uniting the hearts of the nation, and providing collective enjoyment through a wonderful initiative that respects current restrictions”. The parade is part of Ithra’s wider, immediate response to COVID-19.


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