Tag Archives: Los Angeles

The Souk: A Middle Eastern Bazaar

A souk is an open-air marketplace found in Middle Eastern and North African cities. Souks were traditionally held outside, so that the merchants could easily unload their caravans and display their goods for sale. Over time, Souks became more than just a market to buy and sell goods; they also became venues for major festivals and became a popular meeting area for locals and travelers alike.

souk 5

souk 6

In any village or town in the Middle East, you can find souks or Middle Eastern bazaars selling some of the finest crafts made by Middle Eastern artisans in the area. Each souk is unique and can have anything from Middle Eastern spices, to Arabian lamps and lanterns, to belly dancing costumes. Some of the most popular items, however, are Moroccan carpets and Middle Eastern blankets.

carpet

In the countryside and in smaller towns, the people take turns as to which day of the week their souks should occur, which allows merchants to travel from town to town and reach more customers.

In larger cities, souks are held on a grander scale where entire blocks are set up for just one particular craft. The crowds at larger souks are vast, but with blocks organized by what they are selling, it is easy to find your way.

souk 2

souk 7

Middle Eastern Souks are unlike stores in American where everything has a fixed price. Bargaining the price of an item is accepted and in some souks, required. You can bargain for any item, even cobras! The price displayed on an item is a starting point for the bargaining and gives the buyer an idea of the item’s value, so they know where to begin and end the bargaining. Merchants expect buyers to offer a lower price and with time and patience, you can get the best possible price for your item.

snake

It is always best to explore a souk or bazaar as much as you can before bargaining for an item. If you have a particular item in mind before you go to a souk, it is best to research it to the fullest so that you get exactly what you want at the best possible price. To get a better idea about the quality you are looking for visit authentic craft museums in the city first. There you can find information on your item and see the difference between the real thing and a knock-off.

souk 4

brass ware

In the end, time and patience in the bargaining process as well as knowledge about the item you are bargaining for, will help you have an enjoyable time at any souk. Even if you don’t buy anything, walking around all the merchants and items is enough to make you feel completely in tune with the culture and daily life of the souk.

Visit  www.zoharproductions.com or contact us at 800-658-0258 info@zoharproductions.com.

We are located in New York, Los Angeles, Phoenix and Miami.

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Filed under Moroccan Decor

Hookah Party Ideas

Hookah Resist…!

The practice of smoking hookah originated in ancient India. It was not only a custom, but also a matter of prestige. The rich and landed classes would gather around to smoke hookah and socialize. Centuries later, hookah has become quite popular in the United States and elsewhere as an exotic and popular focal point at parties. Pictured below are tented hookah lounges provided at parties produced by Zohar Productions.

Hookah Lounge

Hookah Pipes

Hookah or Shisha is a hookah pipe with a long, flexible tube that draws the smoke through water contained in a bowl.  A person sucks on the end of the pipe and smoke is carried through the tube to the person’s mouth.

Tented Hookah Lounge, lady smoking hookah in a tent

In India and Pakistan, the name most similar to the English  hookah is huqqa. Depending on locality, hookahs are referred to by many names, Narghilè is the name most commonly used in Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, Greece, and Turkey. Narghile derives from the Persian word nārgil (meaning coconut, and in turn from the Sanskrit nārikela suggesting that early hookahs were hewn from coconut shells. Shisha from the Persian word shīshe meaning glass, is the common term for the hookah in Egypt and the Arab countries of the Persian Gulf (including Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia), and in Morocco, Tunisia, and Yemen.

The origins of the hookah began nearly 10,000 years ago in the northwestern provinces of India along the border of Pakistan in Rajasthan and Gujarat. The first hookahs were simple and primitive in design and did not look like the hookahs that are seen today.

Persian, hookah

When the hookah made its way to Turkey almost 500 years ago, it entered the upper class and became popular among intellectuals. Here, the hookah grew in size and complexity, becoming more similar to designs that are seen today.

Hookah came into Western culture when Lewis Carroll first wrote about a hookah-smoking caterpillar in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in 1865. After the book was published, hookah lounges sprang up in England and America, where today it is still popular to imitate the caterpillar by blowing rings and bubbles with colorful smoke. Hookah tents at parties are also very popular and are a great way to guarantee a unique and exotic party.

Caterpillar smoking hookah

Sweet scented tobacco is smoked in the hookah and comes in a variety of flavors. Some of the flavors are based on flowers such as rose and jasmine. Others flavors are derived from fruits like apple, mango and strawberry. There are also flavors such as chocolate, coffee, licorice, and even cotton candy! It is important to be creative in combining flavors in order to create a rich and complex blend.

Even though many centuries have passed since the hookah was invented, its  popularity remains, and it still bringing people together to socialize and celebrate special moments.

Hookah lounges at parties are available by contacting Zohar Productions at 800-658-0258 or info@zoharproduction.com. We have locations in NYC, LA, Miami, and Phoenix. Visit  www.zoharproductions.com  for additional information.

Watch this video to learn how to set-up a hookah:

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June 21, 2013 · 6:56 pm

Henna Parties

Henna has been at the core of celebrations throughout history. It is an important tradition in many cultures, and is used in over 60 countries today.

Henna is a flowering plant that is found in the dry climates of the Middle East and parts of Africa. However, henna is more commonly known as the dye that is made from the plant and is used to create temporary tattoos. The dye can also be used to dye hair, fingernails, and fabrics. The dye stains the skins with colors ranging from pale brown to dark russet red.

There are many ways to mix and prepare henna, and each family has a unique recipe that has been handed down through generations, along with secret henna styles and henna designs that have been in the family for hundreds of years.

The history of henna began thousands of years ago and is still growing today. The art of Henna has been practiced for over seven thousand years in both the Middle East and Africa and in recent years has gained popularity in Europe and  North America.

Indian henna

People receive henna tattoos at henna parties, which celebrate a magnitude of events. Henna party ideas include weddings, birthdays, baby showers, and bar mitzvahs.

henna application on hand

In India, brides have henna designs painted on their hands and feet on the day before their weddings with beautiful, intricate designs. Henna designs, also known as Menhdi, can include paisley and geometric designs with elaborate flowers that cover a large amount of the hands and feet.

Middle Eastern henna is used for more than just weddings. For instance, pregnant women have designs painted on their ankles and bellies to protect them throughout childbirth.

Pregnant henna

henna on foot and hand

Moroccan henna  designs tend to be more geometric in their design than the flowery style of Indian henna.

Moroccan henna

Jewish Moroccans have their own henna designs for weddings. During the traditional henna party the day before the wedding, a member of the family smudges henna into the palm of the bride and groom or places henna balls covered in glitter on their fingertips to symbolically bestow the new couple with good health, fertility, wisdom, and security. Frequently, a ribbon is tied around the smudged ball of henna on the palm in order to darken the color so the henna lasts longer.

henna balls

henna ribbon

henna blob

Henna designs continue to be used for various party occasions in many diverse cultures. These intricate designs are representative of each of these cultures and also serve as a popular source of party entertainment.

Henna parties are available by contacting Zohar Productions at
800-658-0258 or info@zoharproduction.com We have locations in NYC, LA, Miami, and Phoenix.

Visit  www.zoharproductions.com  for additional information.

Watch this video to learn more about henna!

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June 14, 2013 · 9:03 pm