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Seharane (סֶהֲרַנֶה) is a festival historically celebrated by Kurdish Jews as a multi-day nature festival starting after the last day of Passover commemorating the day hametz could be brought to the temple as a First fruits offering (Leviticus 2:12). It coincided with Mimouna. Communities would leave their villages and camp out for three days, celebrating with eating and drinking, nature walks, singing and dancing.
The tradition is at least 2,000-year-old. Some believe it was influenced by the Akkadian spring festival of Akitu. Others believe Seharane comes from the ancient Jewish tradition of celebrating the 1st of Nisan as a spring festival, but the date was later changed to start the day after Passover ended.
Its observance was interrupted after the Jewish exodus from Arab and Muslim countries and the relocation of this community to Israel in the 1950s. In recent years it has been revived but, because of the already-widespread celebration of Mimouna in Israel, the celebration of the Seharane was moved to Chol HaMoed of Sukkot. This, though, caused a decline of the Seharane celebrations since it has always been traditionally celebrated in the springtime since ancient times.
Traditionally, the Seharane has a secular component but there are special prayers dedicated to the holiday, inauguration of a Torah scrolls, and marriage celebrations, similar to the matchmaking traditions of Mimouna.
Before the Jews relocated to Israel, the traditional dates of Seharane were 22nd, 23rd, and 24th of Nisan (in Kurdistan) which are the 3 days following Passover. (In Israel, it technically should have been on the 21st, 22nd and 23rd of Nisan, but there was already the Maghrebi Jewish tradition of Mimouna on 21st of Nisan, so alternative dates were given, but many in the Kurdish Jewish community want it to return springtime.)
The Main Course would be brought to the campsite:
- Yaprach (יפראך): Grape leaves stuffed with meat and rice ( יפרך) (also yaprach are also prepared by stuffing Swiss chard leaves, mallow leaves, and cabbage leaves.)
- Dulama (דולמא): Mixed stuffed vegetables typically summer squash, eggplant, tomatoes, and onions. The typical filling would include ground meat, short grain rice, chopped onions, pine nuts, and yellow raisins.
- Kubbah Ḥamuṣta (קובה חמוצתא)- Semolina kubbah are stuffed with fatty lamb, celery leaves, and garlic and then cooked in a lemon & chicken soup, which has been flavored with celery, Swiss chard, garlic and scallions (or Persian leeks).
Before the meals, the maza would be served. Maza were snack foods served arak during socializing before the main course. These would include:
Araqin (arak or anise liqueur), Lahmajun (Meat-covered bread dough pies), Turshi Ajare (Mixed pickles of carrots, cabbage, peppers, cauliflower),Ksesa Qilya (Fried chicken), Qoqwanta Qilya (Fried partridge), Nunyase Qilya (Fried fish), Shargome Qilya (Fried turnips), Banjane Smoqe Qilya (Fried tomatoes), Riza Kabili (Lamb and rice pilaf), Zalatet Banjane (Eggplant salad), Zalatet Khortmane (Chick pea salad), Zalatet Filfele wa Goza (a bell pepper, carrot, & walnut dip), Burek bi Spanakh (Spinach-filled cigar boreks),Kutelik (Fried bulgur kibbeh filled with meat), Orjet Khortmane (Fried chick pea balls, like falafel), Orjet Nonyase ( Fried ground fish balls), Kubbah shifteh mtuyah (grilled ground meat patties on skewers), and Keliche (Sesame-sprinkled sweet ring-shaped cookies flavored with a mix of spices).
Although the Jews of Kurdistan spoke various Jewish dialects of Neo-Aramaic, it was common to sing many of the songs of Seharane in Kurdish.
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