Ramadan Traditions In Makkah: The Elegant Ritual of Oud.

The intense woody fragrance of Oud has been embraced by the men and women of Arabia for centuries. The burning of Oud is part of the celebrations of Ramadhan and the Hajj. During the month of Ramadhan, many families burn Oud each night after breaking the fast and prior to going to the masjid to perform taraweeh prayers. No party or family gathering in Saudi Arabia would be complete without the burning of oud chips. When burned, the chips produce scented smoke which is used to perfume the hair, skin and clothing of both men and women. Although no special occasion in Arabia is complete without it – it remains virtually undiscovered in the West.
So what is Oud? The fragrance of Oud is very strong. It is a unique scent and is somewhat of an acquired taste. Oud comes from the agarwood trees found in India, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and other parts of Southeast Asia. When these trees become infected with a particular bacteria, oud forms. It takes over 300 years for this process to occur. Because of its rarity and the difficulty obtaining it, acquiring Oud can be a considerable investment. It is sold as wood chips which are burned and as a perfume oil. The oil, kown as “dihn al Oud” is sold and measured in twelve milliliter bottles known as “tola”. Prices can range from 300SAR (about $80) to well over 8000SAR (more than $2200) for one tola. Indeed,it has been touted as the fragrance of kings. It is said that when you walk by a man on the street and smell Oud you know that he is from a good family. It is known to be a sign of wealth, good breeding, status and refinement. When purchasing Oud – the best advice remains, “Let the buyer beware”. Fakes abound in the market place. Prior to purchasing, break the oud chip and compare the color of the interior to the exterior. If one is lighter, it is fake. Aother test is done by putting the oud chip in water, if it floats then it is completely wood – and it’s fake!

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