Ashura in Morocco
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The Day of Ashura in Morocco has been a traditionally day of celebration and joy. Ashura, which is celebrated on the tenth day of Muharram across the Muslim World and is particularly significant for Shia Muslims, where it is a day of mourning. Moroccans however embrace this day with cheerful remembrance of those who have died. It is a custom to pay visit to cemetery pray for the departed ones.
In Morocco, where the Muslim population is Sunni, the local customs associated with Ashura vary across the country. But traditionally, people exchange mixes of nuts mainly walnuts and almonds, and the popular Dates. Nowadays eclectic variety of Moroccan pastry is added to the mix. Additionally, children are given toys and this is the best time - a week prior to Ashura- to purchase Moroccan traditional musical instruments mainly; taârija drum, Derbouka, Triir and drum tambourines. The night before children play with fireworks in the streets and light bonfire called Sh'ala (Arabic: الشعالة). Traditionally females play with vigour the instruments around this fire reciting traditional Ashura folklore songs. Females then continue to play and sing taking their joy - Nashat- to other neighbours who then join the crowd of players. Marrakech is very known for their Daqqa Marrakchiya performed by Men.
With the modernisation expansion of cities this custom is becoming more and more rare and can only be seen is some traditional neighbourhoods and small villages.
Shia sources allege that these customs may be a legacy of the Ummayyad rule who sought to time such occasions of popular public display of joy—often pre-existing in local cultures—with the Ashura day in order to humiliate and counter the mourning of their enemies, the supporters of Ali (Shi'a). The latter see this day as a great catastrophe since it was the day of the death of Hussein and the slaughtering of his family at the battle of Karbala. However, today in Morocco, the event is not at all associated with the Shia-Sunni conflict and has little religious significance and is seen as merely a folk tradition.
The Right of Baba AshurEdit
In some regions of Morocco, the right of Baba Ashur is an activity for children during the festival of Ashura, wherein children wander from one house to another asking for candy and dried fruits or even money and asking the question "the right of Baba Aichore?" of anyone who answers the door This tradition has become famous recently when it has been considered as a substitute for fireworks which usually lead to a range of accidents.
In some cities, Moroccans call the tenth day of Muharram, Zamzam day. On this day, they spray water on each other. Whoever wakes up first sprays the rest with cold water, and gets lots of children and young people out (especially in the popular neighbourhoods) into the streets to spray every passerby with of water. Over the course of the first hours of the morning there are fierce "water battles," especially among friends and neighbors. Whoever refuses to celebrate with "Zamzam water," by sprinkling a little of it on his clothes, may be exposed to a number of volunteers taking turns dumping all of their water on his clothes. Then the day is capped off with a meal of "Moroccan couscous" with dried meat - La Khloua'- saved especially for this day from the sacrifice of Eid al-Adha.