Over the Qualamun Mountains slopes, in al-Maraah village, the Damascene Rose Festival starts this year with exceptional importance as it coincides with the Syrian Arab Republic awaiting the evaluation outcome of the file submitted to UNESCO nominating (the Damask Rose and all its Associated Practices) to be listed in the representative list of Human Cultural Heritage. The people of al-Maraah village in cooperation with Rural-Damascus governorate and the Syria Trust Development have organized the festival.
Damascene Rose Festival is a social ritual celebrated annually by the people of the Damascene Rose in its blooming season hoping for a bumper crop and extended generosity from the generous rose bush.
The aim of holding this festival is to uphold the social traditions and customs of harvesting and preparing the highly valued rose products such as, food, cosmetics and medicine. It also highlights the significant value of the Damascene Rose along with its planting throughout the country as a national project that will help in supporting Syrian economy, motivate creativity and research related to explore more the properties of the rose.
The Damascene Rose Festival opened on 20th June with the national anthem performed by the brass band, followed by a speech of welcome delivered by al-Maraah village representative to all the guests arriving from nearby areas, and a number of traditional songs and sketches that reflect the diversity of Syrian culture. The tools and equipment used in planting the rose and preparing its products were also at display. The villagers served traditional food that reflects the culture of the area.
Reem Ibrahim, Coordinator of Damask Rose Festival in the Living Heritage Program stated that the Damask Rose Project has attracted great attention from the different programs of the Syrian Development Trust "My Project" Program. This program provides non-profit repayable cash assistance to rose farmers in order to increase its cultivation areas. The Syrian Handicrafts, in its turn, facilitates products marketing in a way that guarantees their spread and usage by different groups in society.
The Living Heritage Program works towards supporting these social and cultural activities. It played a vital role in the nomination of the file “Damascene Rose and all its Associated Practices” to the UNESCO in cooperation with the practicing local society that upholds the Damask Rose. The Program works to execute the plan of preserving the rose in coordination with governmental and non-governmental bodies in order to join efforts that can support the Damask Rose and promote it to a sustainable national project. This rose that is molded from the earth of this land and has struck its roots deep into its soil, loving its people and defying all the circumstances and challenges the country has faced whether economic or environmental; in doing so it spread its fragrance all over the world.
It is worth mentioning that the Damascene Rose file is the second one presented by the Syrian Arab Republic to the UNESCO after the registration of theatrical piece attributed to Shadow Theatre tradition (Karakoz and Eiwaz) on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding in 2018.