Syrian zaghārīt … Lululululish

The new issue of the quarterly folklore magazine published by the Ministry of Culture included a number of studies and research on costumes, proverbs, and popular myths, in addition to Damascene zaghārīt. The issue included many topics, including “Damascene zaghārīt and its occasions” by Ahmed Pops, lyrical heritage by Shadi Sami Hammoud.  Whereas, Mahmoud Muhammad Alqam wrote about ancient water mills in Barada Valley.

Alulation is a long, wavering, high-pitched vocal sound resembling a howl with a trilling quality. It is produced by emitting a high pitched loud voice accompanied with a rapid back and forth movement of the tongue.

Alulation is commonly used in Middle Eastern Weddings. In the Arab World, zaghārīt (Arabic: زغاريت) is an alulation performed to honor someone. For example zaghārīt are widely performed and documented throughout Egyptian movies showing traditional Egyptian weddings where women are known of their very long and very loud ululations.

Zaghārīt are considered in Syria as one of the customs and traditions of war as well as peace, employed as an expression of grief as well as an expression of joy.  Usually used by women to praise the bride at weddings and other cheerful celebrations such as the arrival of the newborn, victory and success; but also on the arrival of a martyr's body. However, Zaghārīt in the past played an important role in battles, when our ancestors fought against the Turks and the French colonialism, because they bear significant historical and social meanings.

It is a general vocal expression of good cheer and celebration, when good news is delivered in a gathering place. It is also an integral part of most Syrian weddings where women gather around the bride and groom, dancing and ululating exuberantly. During graduation ceremonies ululation shows pride and joy in scholastic achievement. The women ululating usually stand and make their way to the front to dance and ululate around the graduate.

Not any woman can perform Zaghārīt it needs a high pitched voice, full of emotions carrying a great deal of true wishes and genuine ideas and deep motivation in addition to its capacity to spread the spirit of enthusiasm. For example when fighters hear those women Zaghārīt, they become eager to fight more courageously and fiercely.

One of the well known Zaghārīt at Syrian wedding is as the following:

Aweeha…. In our house a pomegranate

Aweeha … Gorgeous and juicy

Aweeha … We swear not to pick

Until our bride crosses the threshold safe and sound


You can as well watch on Youtube some of the Syrian Zaghārīt traditions throughout that link


Report by: Lama Alhassanieh