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Druze Reincarnation-12
Beirut
By Benas Gerdziunas
31 Jan 2018

Traditional Mashrabiya window coverings at the Druze Council in Beirut, home to its clerical authority. Many agree, that the firm belief in reincarnation - which also changed the opinions of sceptics such as Nibal himself - allowed them to fight without the fear of death, and gave closure to families after sudden loss of close ones.

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Druze Reincarnation-15
Beirut
By Benas Gerdziunas
25 Jan 2018

An elderly Druze man sells newspapers in Aley, Mount Lebanon. According to Gerald Russell, who wrote about the Druze, “Going into battle, the Druze would shout: ‘Who wants to sleep in the mother's womb tonight?’”

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Druze Reincarnation-14
Beirut
By Benas Gerdziunas
25 Jan 2018

Bridge on Beirut-Damascus highway. After a death of a Druze, the saying in the community goes - “May the person be reborn to good parents.”

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Druze Reincarnation-8
Beirut
By Benas Gerdziunas
25 Jan 2018

Bridge on Beirut-Damascus railway, shrouded in the passing clouds. Those children who remember violent deaths in previous lives, usually involve sudden accidents, car crashes and most recently, the war.

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Druze Reincarnation-5
Beirut
By Benas Gerdziunas
25 Jan 2018

Bridge connecting Mount Lebanon with the road to Beeka Valley, yet also forming the north-south dividing line between Druze and Christian strongholds, who fought a brief, but bitter civil war in 1860, and again in the late 20th century. Regardless, both areas retain a mix of religions today.

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Druze Reincarnation-4
Beirut
By Benas Gerdziunas
25 Jan 2018

Clouds over Chouf region, on Mount Lebanon, drifting over cedar trees, the symbol of Lebanon. Chouf was the home to Fakhr-Al-Din, the Druze leader in the early 17th century, who managed to carve out a kingdom in the Ottoman empire stretching as far as Palmyra in present-day Syria.

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Druze Reincarnation-11
Beirut
By Benas Gerdziunas
04 Nov 2017

The Druze have continued tracing their multiple lives across Mount Lebanon, which helped the community become fearful fighters against their enemies. “In this life, I am a supporter of the same political party, same as my parents. Throughout my youth, I wanted to fight for the same ideals, and used to think about the joining the war in neighbouring Syria, but with age, this fighting spirit has decreased,” said Nibal.

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Druze Reincarnation-13
Beirut
By Benas Gerdziunas
04 Nov 2017

Valleys in Mount Lebanon carry an air of beauty and mystique, akin to philosophical studies of the Druze faith, centered on monotheism and individual interpretation. Shadi Khalek, Nibal’s friend, recalls asking his Christian teacher at school: “If we were all sons of God, same as Jesus; I do not remember the answer.”

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Druze Reincarnation-7
Beirut
By Benas Gerdziunas
04 Nov 2017

Nibal Khalek stands in the backdrop of the Druze religious house in his village, Majdal Baana. Nibal accepted the influence of the past life in his current decisions, which in a way, guided his choices in the present life. “Maybe that's why my soul wanted to be reborn in this body, to finish what it started,” he said.

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Druze Reincarnation-6
Beirut
By Benas Gerdziunas
15 Oct 2017

Faint outline of the Druze religious building hugs the outline of the rock face on Mount Lebanon. The religious buildings, the Khalwa, are nondescript, often displaying no more than the five-point star of the Druze faith.

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Druze Reincarnation-10
Beirut
By Benas Gerdziunas
15 Oct 2017

A home in Majdal Baana village. As entire generations live side-by-side, noticing reincarnations in the early years following a child’s birth became a family tradition.

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Druze Reincarnation-3
Beirut
By Benas Gerdziunas
15 Oct 2017

Many children, including Nibal, guided their families to the houses of their previous-life families. Nibal remembered his death in clashes between the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, with whom the Druze allied during the civil war, and Islamists in the Sunni Muslim stronghold in Tripoli, northern Lebanon.

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Druze Reincarnation-1
Beirut
By Benas Gerdziunas
14 Oct 2017

View towards Beirut from Mount Lebanon, the heart of Druze community in Lebanon. The now-defunct Damascus-Beirut railway operated until the civil war broke out in 1975, and opened these mountains to tourists from across the Levant escaping the summer heat. Prior to that, it made an ideal stronghold for its autonomous community, submerged in religious secrecy.

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Druze Reincarnation-2
Beirut
By Benas Gerdziunas
14 Oct 2017

A Druze man plays the flute in their friends hangout, perched on the hill overlooking the valley below. The tight knit community of friends all subscribe to the ideals of Druze faith - or at least, to the little of it that they do know.

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Druze Reincarnation-9
Beirut
By Benas Gerdziunas
14 Oct 2017

Young people from Nibal’s village dance Dabke - the traditional regional dance. All in their late 20s and 30s, no one has ever been shown the ways of Druze faith, without having undertaken the lifelong path of becoming a religious cleric, the sheikh.

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The way of the Druze
Chouf
By Levant Desk
06 Sep 2014

September 7, 2014
Chouf, Lebanon

The Druze are a small, but influential religious tribe spread across the Levant. Known for their bravery and secrecy, they made headlines recently as one of their own, Amal Alamuddin, married George Clooney.

Transterra Media travels deep into the mountains of Lebanon, to the Druze stronghold known as the "Chouf", where a local festival celebrating Druze traditions is underway.

(02:27) Woman 1: Everyone who has an orchard is working on producing jams and dried fruits so they can sell it. Here you can find cooked/dried figs, honey, homemade eggplant pickles, labneh, kaak and some bakeries.. All of these are made in our farms (03: 17)

(03:18) Contributor: Are all these products local? Or you get some products from other villages? (03:21)

(03:22) Woman 1: We have both. we really thank the municipality and the whole village for organizing such an event to promote our products. (03:36)

(03:37) Contributor: Is it true that the people who live in villages are more attached to their homelands than those who live in the cities? (03:42)

(03:42) Woman 1: At first, they weren't really attached, but now you see the young generations taking care of their lands more and more. (03:47)

(03:48) Contributor: Why do you think this is happening in your opinion? (03:49)

(03:49) Mainly because of the price rising in the market, and because of the disease outbreaks that are happening. When a person eats from his own products, he knows what were used to help grow these plants (04:17).

(04:18) Contributor: What is the best memory you have from your childhood in the village here? (04:25)

(04:26) Woman 1: I wish the good old days come back. We lived in peace, everybody was friendly, we used to eat healthy food, we lived like a united community; we all worked together and helped together in baking bread. I really wish these days come back (04:57).

(04:58) Contributor: How attached to traditions the people in the villages are? (05:00).

(05:02) Woman 1: Traditions are disappearing little by little, although some villages still wear the traditional outfit (Cherwal), and other villages are strongly attached to their traditions (05:20).

(05:21) Contributor: Where do you come from? (05:23).

(05:23) Woman 1: I come from Baakline, we still have some traditions in my village. We are all united hand by hand in the Chouf Region. (05:38).

(05:39) Contributor: Did you hear about the story of a young lady from Baakline is getting married to a famous actor? What do you think? (03:44).

(05:45) Woman 1: Yeah I heard about it, it’s really her personal matter, she is free to choose what she wants. But why not, we have no problem (05:58)

(05:59) Contributor: If your daughter told you she loved someone from another region, would you accept? (06:08)

(06:09) Woman 1: If she loves him and she’s happy with him, I can do nothing about it, she is old and wise to choose what she wants (06:20)

(07:10) Woman 2: These are all hand made by local old housewives. We believe that these crafts are disappearing slowly because of the existence of large factories now. This is really bad, since it’s the only income for the old housewives. We really hope they support these women in their production. Other than the women, let’s think of the handicapped girls who can't get out of their houses (07:55)

(07:56) This can be framed and hang on the wall. As for this white one, it is made for dining tables. As for this small one, it is used for trays and it comes in different designs. All of these you see here are handmade (08:47).

(09:54) Woman 3: (00:09) Woman 2: This is hand made; it’s made out of wool. It takes around 1 month to finish it and it is usually done by the women here. This is a dress for a baby; we still prefer to give a gift that is hand made. This is made out of wool for winter times and it takes around 20 days to finish it. You can find a big variety of items here. They still love to work in crafts in the villages. I made this tablecloth. These are hand made head covers, that are used to funerals mainly and they come in different designs. Most of the women work in these designs, including embroiders like this one (11:37).

(11:37) Contributor: Contributor: Do you think they are still attached to their traditions? (11:40).

(11:40) Woman 3: Of course, you always find people who don't know how valuable this work is, they demand a lot of work, around 1 month. Alhamdulillah on the other hand you still find people who are interested in them and order them, mostly in the villages (11:58).

(11:58) Contributor: Do you think they are still attached to traditional cloths? (12:02)

(12:02) Woman 3: You always find people who want to buy these work because it valuable, and it’s still widely used in the villages (12:26).

(12:27) Contributor: Do you think the people here are still attached to their lands more than before? (12:31)

(12:32) Woman 3: Yes of course, thanks to the exhibitions that are taking place and the organizers’ interest in showing the traditional designs (12:46).

(12:47) Contributor: What do they wear in traditional weddings? (12:52)

(12:53) Woman 3: During the weddings they usually wear whatever they want, but traditionally, the women wear a black dress with this hand made white headcover (13:04). (13:05) Contributor: I think you heard about a Durze girl who is getting married to a famous actor here, George Clooney if you know him (13:19)

(13:20) Woman 2: Oh really? Why not? Where is she? Tell her to come buy a headscarf from my collection (13:27).

(13:28) Contributor: Do you want to send her the headscarf as a wedding gift? (13:28)

(13:28) Woman 2: Why not, only if she buys her home mattress covers and tablecloths from me. This is also a tablecloth made of lacework that takes lots of time (13:54).

(14:19) Woman 3: I’m baking Mna’eech of all kinds; cheese, thyme, labneh, meat, whatever you want (14:30).

(14:31) Contributor: This is all from your garden right? (14:32)

(14:32) Woman 3: Yes of course, we grow the thyme; we mix the cheese and meat. And the dough is prepared using the wheat that we grow (14:46).

(14:46) Contributor: Do you think the people are still attached to their homeland? (14:47).

(14:48) Woman 3: Yes a lot. If it comes to me, I can never live except in the mountain (14:59).

(14:59) Contributor: Why not? (15:00).

(15:00) Woman 3: Because I lived all my life here and I'm used to the life in the mountain. The climate is different and everything else is (15:08).

(15:09) Contributor: What about the people in the mountain? (15:09).

(15:10): Woman 3: They are perfect (15:12).

(15:12) Contributor: Do you think those who live in the mountain are more attached to their lands than those who live in the city? And why? (15:18).

(15:20): Woman 3/Man: Yes of course. These are our habits. Those who have lived their whole lives in the mountains can’t get out easily, they are attached to it and they get used to live here (15:37).

(15:47) Cheikh: Our traditions are out identity. It’s who we are, we can’t change it. This is the way we live (16:05).

(16:22) Contributor: Can you tell us a memory you recall from your life here in the mountain? (16:26).

(16:27) Man/Cheikh: All our memories are here. We always try to inherit our traditions to our kids (16:48).

(17:05) Woman 3: This is the thyme we grow in our gardens, we pick it and let it dry in the sun before we grind it before mixing it with sumac (17:26).

(17:26) Contributor: So from A to Z this is homemade (17:27).

(17:27) Woman 3: Yes of course (17:28).

(17:38) Woman 3: These herbs are found in the garden. We don't grow them, they just appear next to the tomatoes we grew. We add to it tomatoes, onions, sumac and olive oil (17:54).

(22:19) Man 2: This is a traditional chicken sandwich from the mountain; we raise chicken in our farms without any chemical products and we slaughter them; this is Halal (22:25).

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Mirrors: The Druze Sheikhs of Lebanon
Lebanon
By Walid
25 Jul 2014

2014
Lebanon

"Mirrors ..." is a dive into the contemporary life of Druze Sheikhs in Lebanon, a photographic testimony that attempts to capture the essence of an often misunderstood faith and people. For these Sheikhs, religion permeates all aspects of their life. Be they doctors, farmers, writers, or construction workers, their relationship with the world is full of compassion, integrity and a tender attitude to the environment. They all feed an insatiable thirst for knowledge regarding the living and themselves; a curiosity that is often and wrongly taken to a form of isolation from the world.

“Miroirs…” est une plongée dans la vie contemporaine des Cheikhs druzes, un témoignage photographique qui tente de capter l’essence d’une foi et d’un peuple souvent mal compris. Pour ces Cheikhs, la religion imprègne tous les aspects de la vie. Médecins, agriculteurs, écrivains, ouvriers du bâtiment : quel que soit leur métier, leur rapport au monde est empreint de compassion, d’intégrité et d’un regard tendre sur leur environnement. Tous, ils nourrissent une insatiable soif de connaissance vis-à-vis du vivant et vis-à-vis d’eux-mêmes. Une curiosité qui est souvent, et à tort, prise pour une forme d’isolement du monde.

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“Miroirs… Les Cheikhs Druzes Mowahhed...
chouf
By Walid
07 May 2014

“Miroirs…” est une plongée dans la vie contemporaine des Cheikhs druzes, un témoignage photographique qui tente de capter l’essence d’une foi et d’un peuple souvent mal compris. Pour ces Cheikhs, la religion imprègne tous les aspects de la vie. Médecins, agriculteurs, écrivains, ouvriers du bâtiment : quel que soit leur métier, leur rapport au monde est empreint de compassion, d’intégrité et d’un regard tendre sur leur environnement. Tous, ils nourrissent une insatiable soif de connaissance vis-à-vis du vivant et vis-à-vis d’eux-mêmes. Une curiosité qui est souvent, et à tort, prise pour une forme d’isolement du monde.