Observing Puhos with all senses

Our group headed to Puhos to do our observing. We started to observe Puhos in the eyes of religious studies. There were a lot of elements that refer to the culture and we had a discussion about what is considered religious elements. The line between culture and religion is hazy and difficult to define, so some of our observations might be about both. Focusing on the religious elements of the area we noticed the following things: Halal foods, recitation of Qur’an inside a restaurant, travel agencies advertising religiously important places, Arabic writings that looked like blessing formulas, and shops that sold religious clothing.

Puhos had a few different supermarkets that sold specifically halal foods and other foods, spices and groceries from other cultures and countries. While we are observing religious elements, we understand that customers at these stores are not there only because they sell halal products. They might just be close to their homes and have familiar products or customer service in their mother tongues.

Puhos also had travel agencies that advertised pilgrimage and other travelling to holy places. It was interesting that we haven’t noticed other places in Helsinki have travel agencies that are more focused on Islamic holy places. Few of the places were already closed for good or were not open that day. Puhos might be a location for those interested in travelling to these locations. There were also many places that advertised currency exchange.

Around Puhos, there were a lot of texts in different languages. We especially noted a few Arabic texts that looked like blessing formulas. Also, some shops have names that have religious meanings. There was a shop named al-Bakara, which means cow in Arabic, but it’s also a name of a Surah in the Qur’an.

After some time, we decided to have some food at Kirkuk restaurant. In the beginning, we took notice of the soundscape of the place. There was Qur’anic recitation, we were not sure about it at the beginning, but there were tv-screens that also had the text and we recognised it to be from the Qur’an. Later there was some other music. We had a lovely time eating food and drinking tea. The atmosphere was cosy, and we spent there a good hour.

Juulia Lohisto, Riina Sarasjärvi, Marika Saarelma, Anja Presnukhina