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Egyptian band on mission to protect dying Zar ritual

The Zar ritual has seen better days, but an Egyptian band has taken upon itself the mission of keeping this ritual alive.
Zar musicians and healers perform their ritual, Cairo, Egypt, June 21, 2006.

CAIRO — The woman standing in the middle of the chorus of men and women knew the impact her songs would have on the dozens of people sitting and watching in deep interest in front of her. She kept raising the tone of her voice gradually until it enveloped the whole place and filled it with awe. The songs contained a mix of religious and love lyrics, some of them totally incomprehensible to those listening. Nonetheless, the same lyrics were stupendous to the members of the audience who knew that they are part of a dying ritual called Zar.

Umm Sameh and her band Mazaher are on a mission to protect the dying Zar ritual.

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