© copyright photo’s Ron Haleber

Part One

PROCESSION OF THE AÏSSAWA
AND OTHER SUFI-BROTHERHOODS

TO THE ZAWYA OF HADI BEN AÏSSA

The Moroccan city of Maknes

- surrounded by walls - was build in the 18th century by My Ismail

– who liked to marry a cousin of Lewis XIV of France




Here the souk - market - during the mussem


      

 

 

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People from all over Morocco live during the three days of the feast in the tents – also used for making music and dancing


The sanctuary of the saint Hadi Ben Aïssa with the tomb of the saint is situated outside the city

 




The sanctuary is surrounded by tombs of people


who like to experience the ‘baraka’, the blessing of the saint

 







People – mostly women – are waiting on the walls around the road to the entrance of the ‘zawya’













The groups of the different sufi brotherhoods are coming together to start the procession











The flags symbolise the different associations of the Sufis who gather normally at homes of their members

 








It is surprising to see how unveiled women mix hand in hand with men in the procession – they are all in trance : possessed by spirits






Here a woman dancing in full trance


    




 

 

              

 


The feast of the mussem of Ben Aïssa is taking place six days after the mussem (birthday) of Prophet Mohammed.











Nowadays allowing the feast of the mussem is a favor of the autorities

– if there is political tension or if there are ‘public scandals’ the autorities forbid the mussem

 



 

 


The authorities (= makhzen) don’t like that tourists visit these kinds of festivals

- therefore the police will chase you away...!


They like to give publicity to the modernity of their country

- So tourists are very welcome in the dancings, bars and disco’s of the Hiltons and other modern hotels


to drink their USA-coke and whisky and to eat their favoured USA-junkfood as hamburgers or hot-dogs.











To visit these feasts you have to be informed about the customs:


so it is dangerous to wear garments of red and black colour


– these colours arouse the possessed dancers in such a degree that they will attack the persons who wear it








                      

 








A man drumming on a ‘derbuka’ – a typical Morrocan instrument



- the leaders – guides - of the possessed dancers in discussion

 


The gifts of the pilgrims are transmitted to the sheikh in charge of the zawya






A man plays on a ‘gheta’ - a Moroccan kind of clarinet very popular at time of wedding feasts



Note: An essential element of the practice of the brotherhoods is the ritual of healing in their sanctuaries (the zawja's).

Invited by a friend, I assisted at this private event - not open for common visitors - in the city of Marrakech.

See here my photographic report:

Healing by exorcism in a zawja in Marrakech




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End of the First Part.

GO TO : AÏSSAWA PART TWO :

(2) THE OFFERING OF GIFTS








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