The glint of light reflecting off finely polished blades, two swords slicing through the air. The dance of steel, choreographed through the years, and embedded in local cultures, rich in history and tradition. The sword, a very real symbol of conquering, protecting, defending. But not here.
In a small corner of NW Syria, where more than 65% of the population is now made up of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from other parts of Syria…..Damascus, Der Ez Zor, Hasekeh, Hama, Homs, Aleppo and Idlib, this day was an opportunity for both IDPs and host communities to celebrate the diversty in the land of their origins. Traditional, firmly gripped suspicions and biases were overcome by the enjoyment and fun of costumes, dances, poety and even linguistic nuances of those who attended.
Trials, uprooted lives, had brought them together. Day in, day out, an uneasy truce as everyone sought to survive.
And so , this festival of diversity was organised to bring people together in a search for commonality. Each group shared something of their cultural heritage. Swords danced, people danced, eyes danced, and perhaps, just maybe, hearts danced.
Then came the end, and a return to the realities faced by each person there.
But not just yet. After the celebration was finished, men from every group, even those from the traditional enmity between Damascus and Der Ez Zor, raised their voices in one song. Together.