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Ya Nabi

Ya Nabi

This Judeo-Arabic text, in the Baghdad dialect, was sung traditionally on pilgrimages, during Shabu‘oth (Pentecost), to the tomb of Ezekiel the Prophet, in Hilla, Iraq. The song also refers to a bridegroom, and is consequently also sung at weddings. Such references in songs that were originally for pilgrimage, may stem from the custom of newlyweds visiting the tombs of the prophets. The prophet would be asked to bless the newlyweds, with hopes for the birth of a baby son and the ensuing circumcision ceremony. The festive and joyous spirit of the song is emphasised, urging women to ululate, and men to clap hands in honour of the prophet. These sounds are heard in the performance, aided by the audiences who, with a little tuition, rapidly became expert in giving vent to the kilililili sound!