Imilchil Marriage Moussem (the festival of Marriage)
The annual festival of marriage is one of the most important events in Berber culture, takes place in the village of Imilchil, the eastern High Atlas Mountains of Morocco. Locally known as Betrothal Festival – in Berber terms Agdoud N Sidi Mohamed el Maghani. Every year, in September (date is fixed according to the Islamic lunar Calendar), Moroccan Berbers come from different regions to celebrate the Betrothal festival. Traditionally, the idea of this event associated with a Berber legend of two young lovers who were forbidden to marry because of their feuding tribes. As a result, they cried themselves to death, creating two lakes by their own tears; Isli (which means groom in Berber) and Tislit (which means bride). These two lakes are separated by the mountain, which means that their souls remained apart even after their deaths. Thus, based on this tragedy, Berber families decided to devote a day on the anniversary of the lovers' death, when young women and men from different tribes could meet and marry. Due to the conservative norms of Berbers that young men and women are not allowed to choose a partner for or even decide something so important like marriage, the Festival gives them the opportunity to meet and marry whomever they prefer.
During the festival, women dress attractively; wearing their sumptuous silver jewelry, and men, on the other hand, put on their white Djellaba as a symbol of manhood and maturity. Local people and put their tents around the stunning lakes of Isli and Tislit near the tomb of their patron saint, Sidi Mohamed el Maghani. They perfume ritual music and folk dances,
On one hand, the festival is primarily an opportunity for already-married couples to celebrate the event and officially declare their marriage (to sign marriage contract). Traditionally, after the marriage is declared, the couples head to their house by riding a mule accompanied with ritual music. On the other hand, the festival is also an opportunity for young men and women from different tribes to meet and find a partner. In this regard, a wink and a nod between men and women is traditionally a symbol of interest. Once a man received this symbol from women or vice versa, if they accept and like each other, they hold hands and hang out to discuss the matter. Then, if they agree, they both head to their families to introduce one another. Later, the marriage will be seriously arranged in the couple’s home. That is to say, they only signed the marriage contract in the Moussem, and keep the big ceremony until the all members of the family and friends are gathered in a Berber wedding day. More to the point, it is believed that a marriage arranged here, in the Moussem, is blessed and will be happy.
Moreover, Imlchil Moussem (or festival) is simultaneously a home of a greet Souk (traditional market), where Moroccan Berbers sell, buy, and exchange traditional goods, livestock, agricultural and handmade products. (for more details watch the video below)
Brief information about Imilchil festival
- The Moussem takes place annually in September, the date is fixed according to the Islamic lunar calendar.
- The Festival stretches over three days.
- The betrothal festival of Imilchil beguiles an influx of domestic and foreign tourists.
- The festival is characterized by enormous attractions, including colorful clothes, feat, dances and music, Berber carpets, jewelry,
- No weddings performed at the festival
Eventually, if you want to delve into Berber culture, traditions, cuisine, music, folklore, Festival (Imilchile)- anything that contributes to their unique identity, don’t hesitated to plan your tour with us. We will have the pleasure to arrange your Berber Tour.