Thursday, 24 May 2007

Please don't sweep the rugs.

The most famous wedding tradition in Morocco takes place in the village of Imilchil

All the young people who live in the High Atlas mountains come to participate in the "Moussem", a kind of tribal marriage Festival where the brides choose their grooms

What is the Legend of Imilchil Brides' Festival?

Her name was "Tislet", his was "Isli". Their families were enemy Berber tribes from the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. Although they were lovers, in true Shakespearean tradition, their irate parents refused to allow them to marry. Their hearts were broken. To live apart was impossible. They sadly exchanged vows, then drowned themselves in two nearby lakes which now bear their names. Destiny wills that even in death, they are unable to unite. The imposing mountain seated between the two bodies of water acts as a guardian even as their spirits reach out for one another.

This act of desperation so devastated the hostile clans of the Berber "Ait Haddidou" that parents of this tribe thenceforth granted their children the right to choose their own marriage partners.

This is the story around the annual Berber Brides' Festival of Imilchil, held high in the lake plateau of the Middle Atlas mountains of Morocco. Each year in September after the harvest, from every corner of the Ait Haddidou domain, come young men and women in search of a mate.

The moussem, or festival, occurs near Imilchil, at the site of the burial place of Sidi Mohamed El Maghani, the patron saint of the Ait Haddidou. Legend has it that the marriages which were blessed by this holy man were happy and long-lasting thus the reason for the arduous trek to this isolated area.

At one time, this was an exclusive "family affair", with members of some fifty tribes from the region converging on the otherwise barren plateau for a Berber version of the family reunion and wedding celebration combined.

Now, those outsiders hardy enough to make the grueling trip are also welcome to participate in the festivities, the affair has become an international attraction for tourists from all over the world. So bring that brother or sister you just can’t marry off and see what they might find. I think it sounds better than speed dating!

DON’T SWEEP THE RUGS! It is not a sentence I have yet been able to make clear in Darjia to my housekeeper. Sweep the runs? Why would you sweep the rugs? You shake the rugs. Shake, outside. I shall try again on Thursday, perhaps a demonstration.

For a fun brain game go to

I’m it again! Tagged by i Beatrice: here we go,

1. I love dark chocolate
2. I like spiders and ants because I admire their persistence and industrious natures.
3. My greatest life's happiness is my daughter
4. Inside my head I am still thirty-years-old. I don’t think I will correct the error as it works for me.
5. I don’t cook.
6. I love to walk.
7. I do not do well in the heat.
8. I love to laugh. I think Eddie Izzard is brilliant.
9. I am a klutz. I am always running into walls and bumping my head and toes.
10. I very much enjoy Action blow ‘em up movies, plot is not required to have complexity, but the leading man is required to be pretty.

I have made a new and important addition to my conversational Darjia: Ha-r-r-r-ack means shit in Moroccan. As in, Harrrack she swept the rugs again!

The following is a conversation I had with Q. on the heels of something I had said that she found a bit shocking.

Q: “So when does that happen?”
Me: “What’s that?”
Q: “When you just get to say whatever you want. When you don’t care anymore what people think about what you say?”
Me: “Fifty. It is one of the brilliant things that happen when you turn fifty. For women, I am not so sure it happens for men.”


I Beatrice said...

So glad you're back, and sparkling, Lady M! Your great sorrow must still be there, but you are going on anyway - which is both brave and inspirational.

I think I'll send my two sons across to look for brides in Morocco btw ...they are so tremendously eligible and gorgeous, but have so far resisted commitment. (Though on second thoughts, perhaps I won't - send them, that is. They might not return.)

The legend puts me in mind of a similar NZ Maori one...... I was staying in a cabin beside Lake Rotorua one year, and rising early, went out to wander by the shores of the lake. Far out, I saw a long Maori canoe filled with young girls, identically dressed, and wearing their hair like ballerinas... Their trainer waded in the shallows at some distance off-shore, shouting instructions to them...

I took them to be a crew of training rowers - but when I recounted this story later to some local people, they said it could not have been. In the first place the lake is so quickly deep, that nobody could possibly have been wading at the distance I described. And so far as the boatful of owing ballerinas went - well no such crew had ever been heard of in those parts!

It was then I heard the legend of the doomed lovers who had drowned themselves in the lake, rather than be parted. I believe the well-known Maori song 'Po kare kare ana' (often sung by Kiri Te Kanawa; or at All Blacks or other gatherings)
has its origins in that old legend..........

But most of all though, I'm just so very glad to see you back again!

lady macleod said...

Thank you my dear. We do have to go on, don't we? I learned that long ago.

I like your legend. I like it even more so that you saw them!

As always thank you for coming by.

debio said...

I sooo love these ancient rituals; that's one of the reasons I enjoy living in a culture so very different from where I grew up.

My daughter, too, has asked when she gets to say what she wants as I, apparently, do it all the time. So, all those parenting books I read when she was fresh and new made no impression on me at all? Shame.

The Good Woman said...

So you suffer with the heat and are living in Morocco. As I suffer with the cold and am living in Scotland.

And yet there is so much else about both places to recommend them.

And I am eagerly anticipating 50. I fear I am already too outspoken, but now I have faith that the day will come when I can get away with it.

jenny said...

Thank you for the lovely history lesson! Didnt I tell you that history is much more fun to learn from someone who has actually gone thru it or is experiencing it now? There is something about that personal point-of-view that makes it much more relatable.

You are a woman after my own heart! I adore Eddie Izzard!! He is another walking, talking, FUNNY (!) history book! Pretty good on the eyes, too, dress and all.

Drunk Mummy said...

You should tell Q that the day you start to blog is the day that you get to say whatever you want, and you don't care about what people say!

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

Oh Harrack! Why wait till 50 to say what you want and not care? I do it all the time. My daughter is always amazed and embarrassed by what comes out of my mouth. It must be the hormones (hers and mine).

lady macleod said...


Parenting books make really nice paperweights I find.

I love the rituals as well. Knowing the stories at the core is facinating is it not?

thank you for coming by.

good woman,

I too was outspoken, now I am eccentric. How cool is that?

thank you for dropping in.


You are right on so many things dear, history to comics.

I love Izzard! I have to sit on the floor to watch the DVDs because I end there from laughing so hard. I wish he would make another DVD of his stand-up routine. I would love to hear what he has to say about current events!

Thank you for visiting.

drunk mummy,

But I care what YOU think! Blogging is an excellent outlet is it not. It is truly Plato's Ring of Gyges, unless someone REALLY wants to find you....

Thank you for coming by.

lady macleod said...


When Q was sixteen we had about five minutes of teenage hormones meet menopausal hormones. It was so frightening we decided not to do it anymore! You keep saying what you want. I think you're funny. I imagine privately your daughter thinks so as well.

Thank you for coming by.

Omega Mum said...

I'm going to start using 'Harrrack' a lot, from now on. How are you; how is your friend?

lady macleod said...

Omega Mum,

I am fine, thank you for asking. I am still in a bit of shock I think. It seems so unreal, because it was so sudden and so quick I imagine. My friend will never be the same I fear. Right now she is trying to breathe and concentrating on her oldest daughter. I think that will be what pulls her back. It is simply a huge empty hole.

Bad words in a foreign language are so useful don't you find? I cursed in Mandarin when Q was young.

Brillig said...

So many great things in here, I don't know which part to comment on first!

Your meme was interesting to read. I feel like I "know" you better already.

The festival you wrote about is great. I'd love to see that sometime! Really fascinating, how traditions and festivals can spring up from a little legend.

As for the rugs, I totally hear you!!! I've lived in places where they do this! Also, while I was living in South America I found that people living in little mud shacks with dirt floors would SWEEP the dirt floors. REally? Sweep the dirt floors? So they won't be dirty anymore? It seemed like an exercise in futility...

And, last but not least, I can't WAIT to be 50. :-)

mutterings and meanderings said...

I'm booking my ticket. If I pick someone, will he have to marry me? ;)

darth sardonic said...

harrrack, joda, and damn. when i turn 50, i guess i will have to start caring about what the people around me think, seeing as i have already spent half my life saying most of whatever i want.

Shauna said...

Where to begin....

Well, I'll just say that I love to think that I'm still 30, too!

Andres Carl Sena said...

i gotta friend who is in desperate need of a woman choosing him because he can't choose for himself. if he could marry his mom, he probably would.

Chopski said...

Hi, I fell upon your blog and enjoyed reading about the legend. Very interesting! Regarding the rugs, surely they are there to sweep dirt under not off?

lady macleod said...


Thank you for all the kind words. Sweep the dirt? That rather boggles the mind eh?
Thank you for coming by.


Hmmm..I'm not sure if the groom is ''required' but I am sure you would find plenty of willing suitors. Come on then, have a go!
Thank you for dropping in.


You should indeed, it will throw them completely off.
Thank you for coming by.


I read this card once that said, "How old would you be if you were as old as you think you are?" So we're good!
Thank you for coming by.

andres carl sena,

That may be a problem your friend needs more help with than Morocco can provide.. On the other hand...maybe.
Thank you for coming by.


Thank you for visiting, and I hope you will come back. You would think so about the rugs wouldn't you, a cultural thing I imagine.
Again, I am glad you "fell" upon the blog.

james higham said...

It happened a little earlier for this man.

lady macleod said...


I am so totally NOT SURPRISED!

Thanks for coming by.

pluto said...

You're right Lady M., I think it happens to a lot of women when they reach 50 but not men -- I don't know why! I'm really often impressed with women around that age and older for being so comfortable with who they are.

BTW you say that you're spending most of your time in Morocco writing, writing, writing ... and it seems to be stories (or even a novel?) that you're writing. How do you get time to write that stuff when you do so-o-o much blogging as well? Are all your posts here just a light warm-down after a real day's work?