Deep in the heart of Morocco survives a culture with an ancient way of life virtually untouched by the world outside. Until today, scattered among the peaks of the High Atlas Mountains, Berber tribes maintain traditions begun by their ancestors hundred and hundreds of years ago. The Berbers are the indigenous people of North Africa. They are the herders, nomads, mountain rug weavers of the land and they lead a free-spirited mountain lifestyle very liberal and democratic to our days. Although the Berbers have been exposed to many organized faiths with Islam being the last - they have nevertheless kept their pre-Islamic rituals and beliefs B a heritage which can be traced to the Neolithic period.
One of the most unique of these rituals is the betrothal ceremony at the Imilchil festival fair. High on a verdant plateau sits Imilchil, the pastoral gathering place for the surrounding tribes of the Ait Sokham and Ait Bougemmaz. They gather at the end of summer, in the early days of September, having spent the spring and the hot days of summer high in the mountain peaks with their flocks. It is the time to begin the transition to leave the nomadic life behind and settle in for the winter months. Now is the time to prepare the plots and terraces for the fall plowing. And now is the time, as it has been for centuries, for the social gatherings to occur. Now is the time for the fair.
While trade, communication, introductions among families and dispute resolution settled by the wise elders goes on throughout the three days of the Imilchil fair, by far the most unique and magical draw is the betrothal ritual of our present days. For it is here that singles of all ages and youths in particular come to find or be found by a partner. Men don their Djellabahs (outer robes) and embellish themselves with the most precious silver daggers they own to signal maturity and wealth. The women in turn wear most beautiful handiras (capes) covered with the best embroideries their hands can stitch. They also adorn themselves with resplendent silver jewelry, belts and draping. The mornings are reserved for browsing and making acquaintances. The women saunter from grouping to grouping while the men remain stationary B on exhibit as it were. It is the woman's prerogative to make the first advance.
When a woman feels an attraction for a man, she approaches him, picks him by the hand, and invites him for a walk. It is during the walk that she asks all the important inquiries that help her determine this is the man for her. If her decision is positive, they both walk to the tent where the scribes will announce them husband and wife, and the ceremony begins. Otherwise, she will continue her search for the man of her choice. Sometime three days are not enough for a woman to find her man and she may wait for the fair next year. For those who are lucky to find their match and even those who did not, it is equally a time of ultimate joy and celebration of an ancient and sacred way for matchmaking. Imilchil is a unique place in the world and a hidden treasure for the respectful traveler with a deep interest for learning. This small group tour to Imilchil festival is scheduled for 2021 and 2022. Join in the spirit to explore the best of Morocco history, nature and sacred music. this is a pre-packaged Morocco Tour but id you prefer independent travel, we can personalize a special private Morocco expedition just for you.