The Malta Independent 17 February 2020, Monday

Mnarja: Farm animals, Maltese food and music at Buskett

Albert Galea Saturday, 30 June 2018, 09:10 Last update: about 3 years ago

This year’s Imnarja festival once again promises to be an agricultural extravaganza, with a number of activities and competitions that will showcase the work of Maltese agriculturists being organised as part of the festivities at Buskett Gardens in Rabat.

Throughout the day, local products were  showcased in competitions of numerous categories, such as vegetables, fruits and cotton whilst local animals such as cows, horses, dogs, rabbits and other farm animals were exhibited.

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The event started on Thursday evening with a horse parade, accompanied by the Dingli Scout Group and by the Police Mounted Section.  Folklore groups and the traditional ghannejja helped the ambience at Buskett gardens.

For the first time as part of these festivities, Verdala Palace opened it’s doors for  the public to visit.  Also open for the first time to the public will be the winery, where visitors will have the opportunity to see the wine-making process and also taste and buy the wine produced.

L-Imnarja is one of the most important dates of the Maltese cultural calendar, and its roots can be found from many years ago.  The first trace of celebrations centering around 29 June can be found in Roman times, with the pagan feast of Luminaria (meaning illumination) falling on that day.  This was celebrated with bonfires and flaming torches.

The festivities commence with the announcement of a bandu, a practice which first started in the 16th century and which is still in practice today.Mnarja was initially celebrated outside St. Paul's Grotto; however, by 1613 the focus of the festivities had shifted to the Cathedral of St. Paul, in Mdina, and featured torchlight processions, the firing of 100 petards, horse races, and races for men, boys and slaves.

It is said that under the Knights, this was the one day in the year when the Maltese were allowed to hunt and eat wild rabbit, which was otherwise reserved for the hunting pleasures of the Knights.

The first agricultural show was held in 1854 at Buskett, and was launched by the then British Governor William Reid.  This tradition is still going strong today, over 150 years later.

 

Photos James Caruana
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