Morocco - Ben Aïssa Moussem

 

Morocco celebrates many Moussems throughout the year, which are festivals in honor of the saints. May brings the annual Ben Aïssa Moussem— one of the most important festivals in Morocco named after Saint Ben Aïssa.  Ben Aïssa founded the Aïssawa Sufibrotherhood in the 15th century, which was once one of the largest Sufi sub cults in Morocco. Festivalgoers travel to Meknes, where Ben Aïssa’s tomb is located just outside the city. There’s food and fun everywhere, horseback races and fairground rides. More extreme devotees to the Aïssawa Sufibrotherhood put themselves in trances and put themselves through tests of strength and endurance to prove themselves to be true devotees. Up until recently, one of these trials included glass swallowing! According to the Lonely Planet, "It’s a busy festival with fantasias (musket-firing cavalry charges), medieval pageantry (against a backdrop of a modern fairground), illusionists and plenty of singing and dancing.”