News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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October 3, 2013

Annual festival to highlight Middle Eastern culture

TERRE HAUTE — Guests will leave the 21st century for one elegant afternoon on Sunday and return to the atmosphere of gold braided caftans and Mideast attire.

Taking place at the St. George Orthodox Church Social Center, this year’s Middle Eastern Festival will be from noon to 5 p.m. While guests are relishing their kibby and shish kebab, and a variety of Syrian and Lebanese food, they can listen to the sounds of the almost extinct strings of the lute (oud) and the beat of the derbukki (goat skin covered steel drum).

The Syrian-Americans of Terre Haute will break bread with guests and encourage everyone to join them as they perform the dubkee.

The dubkee is a line dance of three to 30 or more people, holding hands and following a leader flourishing a handkerchief. The dance was once called “Niswan and Rajal” (Ladies and Gentlemen) but now includes all age groups; sons and daughters and grandchildren of people who emigrated from Syria some 90 years ago, carrying on their cultures and customs — a fitting celebration to the centuries of ethnicity that endures and flourishes far from its homeland.

Featured dancers at this year’s festival will be Judy Hanna and Diane Najjar of Indianapolis. Hanna has been featured at the International Festival in Indianapolis. She learned to dance at age 3, runs her own dance studios, and teaches dancing in several schools in Indianapolis. Najjar has taught many of the younger festival dancers at the annual St. George festival in Indianapolis and is seen often promoting Middle Eastern culture and traditions.

Advance ticket sales are $15 for adults and $6 for ages 12 and under. Cost is $17 at the door, and students with ID receive a $2 discount. Tickets are available at Saratoga Restaurant, Corey’s Fine Footwear, Ellis Law, George’s Cafe, Mike’s Market, and at the church office at 1900 S. Fourth St.

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