The Wedding Festival of Imilchil : Engagement and Folklore

In the Oriental High Atlas, the village of Imilchil organizes every year in September a festival where hundreds of young girls and young boys celebrate their marriage.

Imilchil, a village located high up at 2,200 m altitude in the lake plateau of the Oriental High Atlas in Morocco, hosts an annual festival as an open air moussem. For a long time the festival was closed off to visitors but in recent years has opened to stimulate tourism. This event combines, on one hand, the components of a modern festival, with its festive and commercial aspects and authentic festival, with its aspects of a cultural and social event steeped in ancient traditions, on the other hand.

Thus the village of Imilchil hosts every year hundreds of young men and young women who mix freely, without constraint, to seal their fate by celebrating their marriage.

A mythical origin

The idea of such a moussem was born of a legendary story, inspired by authentic historical events of the Berber tribes who were in perpetual intertribal wars. Aït Ibrahim and Aït Yaaza were the two rival factions of the tribe Aït Hdiddou. According to legend, a young girl Ait Yaaza loved a handsome young man of Aït Ibrahim, in a sort of Romeo and Juliet Berber of the High Atlas. They experienced the same tragic fate: to die without coming to love or not to marry. This drama had run many tears, who gave birth to Isli lake (the groom) and Tilsit lake (the bride).

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