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Lawrence of Morocco

Mouloud in Meknes

Mouloud or Mawlid is the celebration of the birth of the prophet Muhammad. It is celebrated by muslims all over the world but here in Meknes it is doubled with another special event. For almost 500 years now, it has coincided with the Moussem (pilgrimage) of Cheikh El Kamal (The perfect one) dedicated to Sidi M’hamed Ben Aissa (1467-1526) who spent his life teaching and explaining the precepts of the prophet.

The Moussem is held every year in the city of Meknes. Members of the Aissaoua brotherhood comme from all over the world to celebrate with music and chanting on the tomb of Cheikh El Kamal.

Maybe I should stick to basic facts but the temptation is too great to tell you more about it. In fact noone really knows but there is lots of talking about it. The celebration also includes sacrificing animals and eating the raw meat. Large groups of people dance around and chant hypnotic sounds while the crowd throws animals as a sacrifice. Rumour has it that the blood drives them wild and that if they don't get enough animals to sacrific they will hurl themselves at the crowd and attack anyone wearing red. There are also many stories of people cutting their arms and legs and being completely healed the next day. This is pure myth of course. They are stories that people tell each other because the brotherhood remains very mysterious and uses animal sacrifies in their ceremonies. The Aissaoua do this because according to legend, when the cheikh died, one of his disciples went into a transe from the shock and then killed and ate a raw sheep.
You can have a look at this video if the blood doesn't bother you. The quality is extremely bad but it gives you the general idea.
I'm not trying to scare you of here ;) It is just a small minority that participate in this rite. For the rest of Meknes it is just an enormous celebration with lots of fairs all over town for children and lots of shopping in the many markets that pop up all over town.
The best time of the year to stock up on traditional plates and other forms of poterie.
It's also a great time to see the fantasia horse riding ceremonies.
You can read more about the Aissaoua and transes here. (in French)

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