If you have visited Arab homes, you may have noticed some scented bukhoor being burned in one corner of their houses. Bukhoor are scented chips or bricks of a tree from various origins. These are prepared and are usually burned in a mabkhara, a traditional incense burner. Bukhoor is part of their tradition and a gesture of hospitality. In fact, it is customary to pass bukhoor among guests. Also, bukhoor is used on special occasions like weddings or even during Friday prayers. Bukhoor supposedly has healing properties: the scent of bukhoor can help strengthen body and spirit; but generally according to some Arabs, they are just but perfume in the house. In Mubarakiya Market, there are many shops catering to bukhoor customers only. One of many is the Mabrook Perfume Company located in the middle of the market. Fadal Al-Rahman, a Bangladeshi salesman has worked at Bukhoor Company for many years now, so long that one can describe him as a bukhoor expert. “I know every scent of bukhoor available in the market,” he said.
Bukhoor from India is the most expensive, Rahman said. Indian bukhoor is sold from KD 200 to KD 1,000 per kilogram. “While Indian bukhoor is no longer available in Kuwait, you can still get them because there are some shops with contacts back in India,” he said. Rahman clarified that Indian bukhoor is banned for export by the Indian government, but if there are businessmen who want Indian bukhoor, they buy them when they go to India and bring them back to Kuwait. “So it’s available, but few are selling them,” he said. “You know, even the Sri Lankan bukhoor is not allowed to be exported out of Sri Lanka, but you can find them here as well,” he added. Bukhoor tree can be legally sourced from Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar and Cambodia.
Bukhoor tree itself doesn’t release a fragrance, but the process and, most of the time, the oldest trees or the dying agar wood trees do. Rahman said the bark and trunk are selections from the agar wood tree that are available. “The more mature the agar tree is, the more it is ready,” he said. Rahman lauded Indian bukhoor as the best. “They are the best because of the weather. The scent is being affected by weather and you know how good the weather is when it comes to bukhoor,” he said. Various bukhoor scents may vary depending on one’s desired fragrance. “Arabs want something with a very strong fragrance because they are also connected to the weather condition here. Besides, the stronger the fragrance of bukhoor, the better it will be because they can reuse them the following day or perhaps they can skip a day before burning the new one,” he added. Mamul is the most sought bukhoor for many in Kuwait right now. It releases the real Arabian essence and is traditionally used in many Arab homes. There are machine and ready-made bukhoor in the market but according to Rahman, they are not as competitive as the natural bukhoor
“The tradition here in Kuwait is that simple bukhoor should be burned and its smoke scattered around every corner of the room,” Rahman said. Bukhoor also has other uses. Abayas (garment worn by women) or dishdashas (garment worn by men) can be scented by waving the clothing into the smoke to catch the scent of bukhoor. Bukhoor can also be used as body perfume by applying dehan, a spreadable form of bukhoor, on the hair. When using dehan, one should put dehan on the tip of one’s fingers and run it through one’s wet hair. You can also wave your hands close to the bukhoor burner to catch the scent. The closer you are to the bukhoor burner, the more chances you’ll catch the fragrance,” Rahman said. A rich thick scented smoke can have a long lasting smell to the recipients and the smoke of the bukhoor can be absorbed by any fabric like curtains, sofas and c
By Ben Garcia
Source - Kuwait Times