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ZarSpirit Possession, Music, and Healing Rituals in Egypt$

Hager El Hadidi

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9789774166976

Published to Cairo Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.5743/cairo/9789774166976.001.0001

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Localization of Bodies in Space: A Ritual Sampler

Localization of Bodies in Space: A Ritual Sampler

Chapter:
(p.111) 5 Localization of Bodies in Space: A Ritual Sampler
Source:
Zar
Author(s):

Hager El Hadidi

Publisher:
American University in Cairo Press
DOI:10.5743/cairo/9789774166976.003.0005

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter presents a sampler of zar sacrificial rites and rituals using a realist narration style, of the kind that is employed in fiction, based on transcriptions of actual recordings of real life. The opening sura of the Qur'an, the Fatiha, is the fundamental Muslim prayer. In zar rituals, the Fatiha is used as the central part of a special ritual formula performed at the beginning of any zar performance, called the Openings (al-fawatih). This chapter first describes the ritual use of incense in the Openings rite and its context before discussing the rite for sacrificial blood. It also considers the sacrificial procession dedicated to the Grand Lady, one of the most important zar spirits and leader of a spirit pantheon. Finally, it examines the mayanga (a Hausa word which means “cemetery”), a place where a zar devotee may harbor her possessing spirits and thus acquire direct access to them.

Keywords:   zar sacrificial rite, Fatiha, zar ritual, Openings, incense, sacrificial blood, Grand Lady, zar spirit, mayanga

In the name of God, most benevolent, ever-merciful.

All praise be to Allah: Lord of all the worlds,

Most beneficent, ever-merciful, King of the Day of Judgment.

You alone we worship, and to You alone we turn for help.

Guide us (O Lord) to the path that is straight, the path of those You have blessed,

Not those who have earned Your anger, nor those who have gone astray.

(The Fatiha, opening verse of the Qur’an, trans. Ali 1992)

The Offering of Incense

The rite of the Openings (al-fawatih)

The opening sura of the Qur’an, the Fatiha, is the fundamental Muslim prayer. It plays a very important role in the ritual life of all Muslims. The Opening is a prayer that is essential in the daily performance of the five-times-a-day salat ritual, one of the five pillars of Islam. It is repeated in every prostration (rak‘a), the basic ritual unit repeated in every prayer, and is memorized by every Muslim at a very young age. In Cairo, beyond the context of salat, the Fatiha has been also used by Egyptian Muslims to ask God for help and (p.112) protection, particularly at the beginning of something, for example an exam, a new job, moving into a new place, and so on. The Fatiha is also recited to seal any contract, from marriage to business, as well as to honor and pray for the salvation of deceased Muslims: relatives, strangers, prophets, and saints.

In zar rituals, the Fatiha is used as the central part of a special ritual formula performed at the beginning of any zar performance, called the Openings (al-fawatih). This important rite is always performed with the accompaniment of incense to render the body of the zar-seeker pure and thus attractive to spirits and ready to receive them. These occasions include going to the hadra to dance into trance, a public reconciliation ceremony, or before going to sleep to communicate with spirits in one’s dreams or to diagnose possession. The recitation of the Openings in conjunction with the incense rite (al-bukhour) is the basic ritual tool of the zar trade; it is used by sheikhs and sheikhas to diagnose possession in others and to invite their own spirits into their dreams for divination purposes.

The following account is a description of the ritual use of incense in the Openings rite and its context based on a combination of field notes and transcriptions from a tape recording of a three-day zar event that I witnessed in the summer of 1996. The choice to represent the rite in this fictionalized descriptive style is an attempt to preserve something of the texture and intensity of a zar rite as part of life: the exchange of money, the screaming children, and other concerns and actions that take place while the ritual is in full performance.

This particular event was very significant, because it was my first complete observation of a zar hosting (diyafa). It was also important because I came to really know Umm Ashour, the hosting initiand in such events.

I had gained enough rapport after my initiation with Sheikha Anhar that she finally allowed me to tag along with her female zar (p.113) professional band. Sheikha Anhar was supposed to officiate at Umm Ashour’s hosting ceremony, but she became gravely ill just a few days before, and sent her daughter Sheikha Karima in her place. A month later, Anhar died.

Umm Ashour’s hosting ceremony was nine years overdue. She has wanted to hold a zar since her husband died nine years earlier, but she could not afford the expense. During those nine years she was very ill and could hardly move. After visiting the saint Fatma al-Nabaweya and attending Anhar’s hadra, a week earlier, she could not resist the desire to host a zar as she had often done before. She sold her six thick gold bracelets. The monetary value of two of them financed her zar ceremony. The rest of the money financed a refurbishing project for the coffee shop now run by her son. She also paid some physician’s bills with the remainder of the money.

Description of the rite of the Openings

Karima’s incense is slowly filling the air with a pleasant smell. “Pray by the Prophet!”40 she shouts while adding more incense from her mother’s brass box to the burning amber in the incense burner. The solemn tone of her voice gathers everybody’s attention. A moment of silence prevails.

Karima begins to ritually purify Umm Ashour’s body with the fragrant smoke. This is a rite that prepares the human body for the descent of zar spirits. The incense purifies the body and renders it suitable to be inhabited by spirits, who like ritual purity and cleanliness (tahara). Zar people say that zar spirits are drawn to human bodies by their favorite incense scents—including amber, musk, mastic, and sandalwood—and by the blood of sacrificial animals.

With the incense burner balanced on a small tray in her right hand, Karima steps forward closer to the seated Umm Ashour. The latter grabs an Egyptian ten-pound note from a small cloth bag secured to her undergarment with a thick thread attached to a safety (p.114) pin. She tucks the bag back under her white dress. She crumples the note and discreetly puts it into Karima’s tray. Then she collects the tip of her white gauze, loosely covering her head, in both hands in anticipation. Karima kisses the crumpled note, rapidly touches the note to her forehead with her right hand, and then puts the money carefully into her cloth bag, tucking it back in her chest.41 She leans over and carefully holds the incense tray a few inches under Umm Ashour’s chin as she starts reciting al-fawatih (pl. of fatiha) in a clearly enunciated and steady voice:

  • The Opening Sura for the Prophet,
  • For the beloved of the Prophet,
  • For the allies of the Prophet, the wives of the Prophet,
  • For the descendants of the Prophet.

The incense smoke penetrates the space contained within the white gauze still held by Umm Ashour. She inhales the smoke in a deep breath. In response to Karima’s call, she reverently recites the Fatiha in silence; only her lips are moving. Some of the adults standing nearby join Umm Ashour in this silent recitation.

Others assume a posture of reverence in honor of the Prophet Muhammad and the long list of holy men and women that Karima’s formula calls on to intercede on behalf of the sick person.

Karima then takes Umm Ashour’s right hand in her left hand, releasing the tips of her white gauze. Karima passes the incense burner first under Umm Ashour’s right arm and then under the left arm while she continues to recite the fawatih:

And for all those who take refuge in the Prophet.

  • For Omar and Osman and Ali,
  • Abu Bakr, the friend of the Prophet.
  • Prophets and holy men (awliya):
  • (p.115) Fatma al-Nabaweya, Rab‘a al-‘Adawiya,
  • And the guardian of Egypt (Masr)42: al-Sayyida Zeinab.

Karima places the incense burner on the ground between Umm Ashour’s legs to allow the smoke to rise under her garment. She bends over and takes Umm Ashour’s right foot in her right hand, passes it over the incense burner, and then lifts her left foot as the fawatih formula comes to its end, imploring the spirit masters to take away the affliction.

  • O my Masters, take my hands with your hands,43
  • In the name of the Prophet who brings us guidance (al-hadi).
  • By the life of the Prophet of the Muslim community (umma),
  • Drive this calamity (ghoma) away from her.
  • Take the smoke and give her strength (‘afiya) and proof (burhan)
  • By the right of the Prophet—may peace and prayer be upon him.

Azza and I ululate to cheer Umm Ashour and mark the completion of her incense rite. Women standing by wish her health and a successful ritual. As Karima slips away from the lobby, the formal atmosphere created by the fawatih rite dissipates.

The Offering of Blood: The Sacrificial Rite

Preparation for the sacrificial rite

Preparation for Umm Ashour’s debih (sacrifice) is a major undertaking. The lack of direct access to a water source complicates the preparation. The ewe, chickens, and rabbits have to go through ablution with clean water to be ready for the sacrificial rite. Water for ablution needs to be brought in a large basin into the lobby where the sacrifice will take place. Another basin to collect the sacrificial blood needs to be set in place. Candles for the procession (zaffa) have to be distributed and lit.

(p.116) In the lobby, there is a great deal of confusion, shouting, and commotion when Azza, Umm Ashour’s daughter, brings the short white candles from upstairs. Children jump up and down begging for candles. Umm Ashour calls on the women sitting in the alley to take candles for the procession. Fatma, one of Anhar’s band members, asks for a plate and a basin for the sacrificial blood. The wife of Umm Ashour’s son Ossama runs upstairs to their apartment on the third floor to get them. Her three-year-old son screams for his mother.

As Sheikha Karima steps back into the lobby, she tries to control the chaos and announces authoritatively: “Candles are only for women. … Don’t give any to children. … Light the candles. … Get matches.” With her eyes, she assigns me the task of lighting the candles now in the hands of a few standing female guests who have gathered around Umm Ashour.

Fatma tries to continue her work performing the ablution of the sacrifice. She cries, “Where is the water?”

Umm Ashour asks her daughter-in-law about the water. “Do you want us to go upstairs again?” replies Ossama’s wife irritably.

“No, don’t go upstairs; get water from the neighbors,” says Umm Ashour, stopping Azza from going upstairs again. Ululations.

In an attempt to restore order again, Sheikha Karima calls: “Pray by the Prophet!”

But this time the sacred formula has no effect on the noisy hubbub, caused mostly by the overexcited children. “Give me a candle,” a child begs.

“No! It is wrong to give candles to children.” Ululations again.

Then in full voice Karima announces: “If you are worried about your children [because of spirit possession], take them away from here.”

Instantly the children disappear from the lobby.

“Where is the plate?” asks Karima.

(p.117) “Take the rings,” says Umm Ashour to Karima.

Umm Ashour has sold six gold bracelets, mostly to finance this zar hosting ritual. She is now taking off what remains of her gold jewelry: a pair of earrings, a long chain with several zar pendants, and two chunky male rings. She throws each item into the porcelain plate now in Karima’s hand: Clink. Clink. Clink. Then Umm Ashour takes off the heavy silver bracelet bought just a few days earlier to fulfill the demands of the Grand Mistress and hands it to Karima to add to the lot.

The zar jewelry items are collected in the china plate (called a tabaq ghasheem) that was bought specifically for the occasion. A few drops of blood from each of the sacrificed animals are collected in the plate to anoint the jewelry and ailing parts of Umm Ashour’s body.

“Do I stand or do I sit? What do I do?” asks Umm Ashour, confused and helpless. Her aching legs prevents her from participating vigorously in zar the way she has always done since she was a young girl.

“Sit,” replies Karima.

“Where are the chickens and the other animals? Who is getting the water?” asks Fatma.

“Here they are,” reply Umm Ashour and Azza in unison, pointing to a small palm-wood crate containing two red chickens and two black rabbits.

“Where is the ewe?” calls Fatma as she rolls up her sleeves to start the ablution of the sacrificial animals.

“The ewe,” shouts Sabah, the assistant, impatiently leaning over a plastic basin full of water next to Fatma.

Ossama’s wife appears with the ewe. Fatma and her niece Sabah begin the ablution of the sacrificial animals: first the ewe, then the chickens, and then the rabbits. Sabah washes the face of the ewe three times with water, a ritual motif modeled after ablution in (p.118) Islam, which prepares and purifies a Muslim for prayer. In this case it prepares the animals for the sacrifice. The ewe licks the water off her hand.

“She is thirsty,” says Sayyida, another of Anhar’s band members.

“She is hungry,” says another woman standing by.

They offer her some water: “Drink. Drink, O Dark One,” says Sabah, addressing the black ewe in a nurturing voice.

Fatma calls: “Dayman ya habayeb44—a call for noqta (gifts of money) from all of us: family members, friends, and neighbors.

Umm Ashour attempts to stand up but she fails: “I can’t.”

She emits a cry of pain: “Ah.”

“Get somebody to assist her.” In response, her daughter Azza calls to her brother Ossama, who instantly hurtles into the lobby to assist his mother.

“Somebody needs to hold the ewe. … Put her feet in the basin,” orders Fatma.

“Only her front feet,” adds Karima.

The Grand Lady’s Procession

The first phase of the sacrificial rite is a procession parade (zaffat al-sitt, zaffat al-dabayeh, or zaffat al-tuyour). Ideally the zar bride dances to specific spirit songs while parading with the sacrificial animals. Her bridesmaids follow her with lit candles in their hands, cheering her with ululations, and in her honor give gifts of money (noqta) to the musicians. Birds and rabbits are held by the bride or balanced on her head and shoulders while she dances to zar procession songs. The bride usually mounts larger animals such as sheep, goats, bovines, and camels. In practice, a queasy, fearful, or immobile bride is accommodated. She is spared the balancing of birds on her head or the mounting of a camel. Any symbolic gesture that conveys the same meaning will do: holding a chicken for a moment or two, or pulling the rope of the camel instead of mounting it.

(p.119) As Fatma takes her lead-singer (rayesa) position facing the chorus, she inspects the scene; everything is in place for the ordeal. The noisy children have finally left the lobby to avoid possession. The animals, ritually purified—first with water and then with incense—are in position awaiting the song that calls on the spirit for whom each will be first paraded, and then sacrificed. Lit candles in hand, the guests have gathered around Umm Ashour, now standing with the help of her son. The musicians are facing Fatma, awaiting her signal to begin singing.

Tonight’s spirit procession songs are calling on the Grand Lady and members of her pantheon. They are vocal call-and-response, non-instrumental pieces in Rotana with occasional Arabic expressions performed in an Africanized accent. Rotana is the language of zar, which is said to be in an African language (Sudani). None of us understand it, not even the singers themselves. Occasional clapping to the rhythms accompanies some of the vocalization.

Commanding the attention of the gathering, Karima delivers another “Pray by the Prophet!”

Her face covered completely with her tarha (a veil), Umm Ashour holds the ewe, ready to sway her upper body while Fatma softly sings first to Rora—one of the Grand Lady’s seven manifestations—and the chorus repeats mostly the same line after her.45

  •        Rora daniniya Rora we inak man zawa.

Sabah calls for noqta: “Dayman ya habayeb, ya habayebha.”

  •        Rora daniniya Rora we inak man zawa.

Fatma repeats the call for noqta over the chorus voice: “Day-man ya habayeb.” Money pours in, while she and the chorus continue their call-and-response singing to Rora. Standing next to his mother, (p.120) Ossama circles Umm Ashour’s head with a twenty-pound note to honor her, and then hands it to Sabah. The latter grabs each note from the habayeb (family members and friends) and in turn circles each note around Umm Ashour’s head.

While Karima and the other musicians sing, their eyes follow Sabah’s movements attentively as she crumples each note in the palm of her hand and puts it in a communal cloth bag. This monitoring guarantees that Sabah does not keep any of the money for herself. The money collected in the bag as noqta throughout the night will be divided equally among the female musicians later on.

Fatma:

  • Rora metakina Rora we inak man zawa.
  • Chorus:

  • Rora daniniya Rora we inak man zawa.
  • Now Fatma sings to Baba Kiri, a member of the Grand Mistress’s pantheon.

    • Dawan Dawa Baba Kiri
    • Dawan Dawa Shekerwa [twice]
    • Helema gana kaka sar.

    Umm Ashour’s limited movement is taken into account. Instead of mounting the ewe as she used to do in her youth, today she holds it by its strap and pets it occasionally. Instead of dancing to and fro in the lobby, she stands in place with the help of her son. She is swinging her upper body to the left and to the right, bowing her head to the rhythms and flinging her elbows in the air.

    When the call for Baba Kiri comes to a halt, the black ewe is moved to the back of the lobby. The chickens’ parade comes next. Karima uses this opportunity to call again for noqta: “Dayman, dayman ya habayebha.”

    With each note, Karima replies in a grateful tone, “Dayman ya habibti.”46

    (p.121) Concerned about making a mess in the lobby, which might result in frictions with neighbors, Umm Ashour shouts to the person carrying the basin of dirty water away from under her feet: “Take care. … Don’t spill the water.” Azza hands one of the two red chickens to Umm Ashour. The singing, in call and repeated response, resumes. This time the song is to Badi Shawra, Adama, Osseh, and Mariam, who are also members of the Grand Mistress’s pantheon.

    Fatma:

  • Ina ya Badi Shawra
  • Shida Badi Shawra
  • Badi Shawra digwa
  • Badi Shawra gamgama
  • Adama laleih Osseh Maryama
  • Adama maydoussi ya Maryama
  • Chorus:

  • Adama laleih
  • Osseh Maryama
  • Osseh Adama
  • Osseh Maryama
  • Fatma and the chorus sing together to Bang Dada without stopping.

    • Ah yo yo yo yo
    • Bang Dada shalu yeh ye yeh
    • Bang Dada shalu
    • Bang Dada fil ada
    • Bang Dada shalu yeh ye ye
    • Bang Dada shalu

    For a short moment the singing stops. Umm Ashour is handed another red chicken. The musicians resume with a song to Hakim Basha, the Physician (al-doctor) and the Grand Mistress’s son.

    (p.122) Fatma:

  • Hakim Basha baba ya rare
  • Chorus:

  • Ya rare baba rayma
    • Fatma starts clapping.
    • Rare sake rayma

    Chorus:

    • Rare baba rayma

    Fatma:

    • Hakim Basha baba ya rare

    • Chorus joins clapping.
    • Rare Baba rayma
    • Ululations.

    Fatma:

    • Hakim Basha baba ya rare [three times]

    Chorus:

    • Rare baba rayma

    • Ululations.

    Fatma:

    • Hakim Basha baba ya rare

    Chorus:

    • Rare baba rayma

    Without stopping they continue singing and clapping. They are calling on Sambo, another manifestation of Hakim Basha. Umm Ashour’s trance is underway, signaled by the changes in facial expressions associated with possession trance. The chicken does not stop clucking the whole time it is in Umm Ashour’s hand.

    • We da zanb laleih Sambo bikerker sha shalu [four times].

    The singing shifts to an Africanized Arabic.

    (p.123) Sambo possesses him and Sambo possesses him.47

    Fatma:

  • Sambo possesses him, Hakim Basha.
  • Chorus:

  • Sambo possesses him and Sambo possesses him.
  • Fatma:

  • Sambo possesses him; they lit your candles.
  • Chorus:

  • Sambo possesses him and Sambo possesses him.
  • Fatma:

  • Sambo possesses him and the Masters possess him.
  • Chorus:

  • Sambo possesses him and Sambo possesses him.
  • Fatma:

  • Sambo possesses him.
  • Chorus:

  • Sambo possesses him.
  • Fatma:

  • Hakim Basha, Hakim Basha.
  • Chorus:

  • Sambo possesses him.
  • Fatma:

  • O Sambo [twice].
  • Chorus:

  • O Sambo.
  • Ululations.

    The women stop singing. Karima asks Azza to take the red chicken from Umm Ashour and to give her the pair of black rabbits. A male and a female rabbit will be sacrificed for Gado and his wife Maryouma in the bathroom upstairs in the apartment later on tonight. They resume singing, now in Egyptian Arabic.

    Fatma:

  • All this is for the Nigerian.
  • Chorus:

  • The Nigerian Gado.
  • Fatma:

  • Welcome, O Nigerian.
  • Chorus:

  • Ah ya Gado Ah O Gado.
  • Fatma:

  • Candles are lit for you, O Nigerian.
  • Chorus:

  • Gado the Nigerian.
  • Fatma:

  • You are the head of the family, O Nigerian.
  • Chorus:

  • Ah O Gado.
  • Fatma:

  • O welcome to you, O Nigerian.
  • Chorus:

  • Gado the Nigerian.
  • Fatma:

  • Real [unclear word] for the Nigerian.
  • (p.124) Chorus:

  • Gado the Nigerian.
  • Fatma:

  • You are the head of the family, O Nigerian.
  • Chorus:

  • Baba Gado.
  • Fatma:

  • O he is welcomed, this Nigerian.
  • Chorus:

  • Ah O Gado.
  • Fatma:

  • Ah O Gado [twice].
  • Chorus:

  • Ah O Gado.
  • Then, still clapping, they sing to Gado’s wife Meram or Mary-ouma without stopping.

    Fatma:

  • O Meram, wife of Gado, Ah O Meram, wife of Gado.
  • Chorus:

  • Ah O Meram, wife of Gado, O Maryouma, wife of Gado.
  • Fatma:

  • I am Maryoum, wife of Gado, Maryoum, wife of Gado.
  • Chorus:

  • I am Maryoum, wife of Gado, O Maryouma, wife of Gado.
  • Karima asks the audience to clap along.

    Fatma:

  • Wife of Gado [twice].
  • Chorus:

  • Wife of Gado.
  • Umm Ashour falls back onto the chair behind her, exhausted.

    The rite of the sacrifice

    With the spirits summoned, the animal sacrificed, and Umm Ashour anointed with the blood of the spirit offering, this phase of the ritual ends. The crowd that had gathered in the lobby of the stairwell disperses in different directions. With the help of a neighbor, the women of Umm Ashour’s household carry the slaughtered ewe upstairs to the apartment to prepare for tonight’s meal and make tea for the guests. A ewe broth with pieces of meat and rice will be cooked for Umm Ashour’s cure. The rest will be kept in the freezer. She is to feed only on sacrificial meat (p.125) during the coming seven days—her days of seclusion. The rabbits of Gado, still alive, are put back in their crate and taken upstairs, awaiting their turn in sacrifice. It will take place later tonight in the bathroom upstairs. As part of the expected payment for officiating at the sacrificial rite, a quarter of the ewe is given to Karima. For now, the ‘sheikha’s share’ is to remain in the refrigerator until daybreak, when it is time for the sheikha to go home. The guests go back to their seats in the alley. The musicians are ready for their break. We walk together toward the corner in the alley designated for the musicians.

    The Mayanga: The Cemetery of the Spirits

    Only serious long-term hadra members with a history of multiple initiations and an aspiration to advance in ritual hierarchy build mayangas. Mayanga is another Hausa word, which means ‘cemetery’ (Besmer 1983). In the zar parlance of Cairo, a mayanga is a special kind of grave and a private shrine where the remains of animals sacrificed for any member of a particular family are buried. It is a place where a zar devotee may harbor her possessing spirits and thus acquire direct access to them. It acts as an axis mundi, bringing the cosmic world of the particular spirits into the local residential domain of a devotee. This proximity to one’s spirit domain confers greater powers to a seasoned zar member: divinations and success in any endeavor, the so-called ‘open path.’

    A mayanga has potency that needs to be ritually renewed with a constant supply of sacrificial blood, bones, and skin. Some mayangas remain active even after their owners die. A taxi driver once told me about the mayanga of his next-door neighbor—a zar leader who is long dead—which emits the smell of incense every Tuesday, the day of her hadra. Umm Ashour’s mayanga contains traces of blood, and the bones, of all the animals that she and her deceased husband have sacrificed for their own zar spirits since they moved to this building at their marriage almost forty years ago.

    (p.126) Conclusion

    The different zar rites described in this chapter by no means exhaust all the rituals performed in zar. This sampler of rituals is presented here to give the reader a sense of the complexity and intensity of zar in ritual performance and to show how bodies are localized in space that connects them to a supernatural cosmology through rituals. The performance of the rite of Openings, using the Fatiha along with incense, is intended to open one’s path through the ritual mediation of a cosmology of immanent beings that include God, the prophets, the saints, and the spirits. Animal sacrifice is an offering intended to replace the offering of oneself (fadiy), implying the seeking of forgiveness and absolution (al-‘afuw wa-l-samah) from the zar spirits, who are seen as part and parcel of the sublime and an inseparable component of a divine, unseen, and perhaps occult universe. The blood of the sacrificial animal binds the initiand to her spirit and to a group of like-minded persons who participate in the zar social world.

    Notes:

    (40) A formula used to command attention. “Pay attention” is its cultural parallel in the English language.

    (41) Kissing money or bread and then touching one’s forehead is a common rite for thanking God for his blessing. Karima usually does this with her first earnings of the day.

    (42) ‘Masr’ may also mean Cairo.

    (43) bi-l-ayadi (‘with hands’).

    (44) Dayman ya habayeb means, literally, ‘May those who love her always be there.’

    (45) I present only Fatma’s lines. The response of the chorus is only included when it differs from Fatma’s call.

    (46) The call for noqta, “Dayman ya habayebha,” is always in a different tone of voice from dayman when it is used as a thank you for noqta.

    (47) The switching of gender is an idiom indicating that the singers are singing in a foreign language.