Celebrate Lebanese Culture at Mahrajan
WHEELING — Our Lady of Lebanon Church in Wheeling will host its 83rd annual Mahrajan — a Lebanese Festival — on Sunday, Aug. 14 at Oglebay Park.
The Mahrajan will open with a Maronite Catholic Liturgy to celebrate the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Continuing the traditional Maronite Rite, parts of the mass will be recited in Aramaic. Monsignor Bakhos Chidiac, pastor of Our Lady of Lebanon Church will preside over the Liturgy, which will be held on the festival grounds at 10:30 a.m.
Since 1933, church volunteers and community supporters throughout the greater Wheeling area have transformed Levenson Shelter into one of the largest one-day heritage festivals in West Virginia, hosting thousands of visitors from across the country.
The Mahrajan recreates the festive atmosphere found in many villages throughout Lebanon — the ancestral home for several generations of families in the Upper Ohio Valley. As a result of the hard work and months of preparation by volunteers, today’s festival-goers gather to enjoy the genuine hospitality and celebrate the Lebanese culture that is founded around faith, family, fun, and, of course, food.
A few favorite traditional dishes to be served at the Mahrajan include lamb shish kabob, kibbee, rolled grape leaves, tabbouleh, hummus, and meat and spinach pies, as well as baklava and an assortment of other Lebanese pastries. Food and beverages are sold ala carte from noon-7 p.m., or while supplies last. Vendors will return again this year to offer a variety of specialty Mediterranean sandwiches and novelty foods.
In addition to the food, visitors return each year for the unique entertainment. Beginning at 1 p.m., and continuing throughout the day, the David Hakim Ensemble from Cleveland will perform live music and lead visitors in the “Dabke” — a traditional folk dance led by a drummer.
Troupe Bint il Nahar, a new dance troupe, led by internationally award-winning and professional belly dancer Tiffani Ahdia of Huntington, has been added to the entertainment line-up this year. The troupe of six dancers will perform routines to Lebanese pop music songs, drum solos and folk dances.
Another addition to this year’s Mahrajan is pony rides for children.
Other family-friendly activities include games, activities, and souvenirs and specialty gift shopping.
The Mahrajan is the largest fundraiser for Our Lady of Lebanon Church, which is West Virginia’s only Maronite Catholic Church.
The first Mahrajan was held to raise funds to rebuild the church after it was destroyed by a fire in 1932.
Funds in the recent past have helped to replace the steeple of the historic church building, enhance the veterans’ memorial honoring parishioners and improve the entrance and lighting of the church’s former hall on Eoff Street.
The Mahrajan, held rain or shine, is open to the public and admission is free of charge.
Reservations for dining tables may be made by calling 304-233-1688. Free, non-reserved seating is available on a first-come, first-serve basis in the dining and entertainment areas.
Additional information about the Mahrajan can be found at www.ololwv.com.