Achoura… “Fakia” (dried fruit), couscous and “Chaala” (fireworks)

Like all Muslims, Moroccans celebrate Ashura, which corresponds to the night of 10 Muharram, although many do not know the origin of this celebration, how it arrived in Morocco, or why its rituals differ from other rituals found in other Arab and Muslim countries.

Some say that Ashura is originally a Jewish holiday. It commemorates the 10th Muharram, the day God saved Moses from Pharaoh’s oppression. Among Muslims, it corresponds to the day when Al Houssein bin Ali bin Abi Talib, the grandson of the Prophet Mohammed was killed in the Kerbala war. It is for this reason that Shia celebrate it every year, in their own way, by going out in groups in the streets, especially in Iraq and Iran, whipping themselves, shouting and crying in memory of the death of their Imam Al Hussein.

In Morocco, a Sunni country, families celebrate this holiday by fasting and serving “Fakia”, an mixture of various dried fruits such as almonds, nuts, figs, dates and traditional sweets, in addition to couscous, of course. Girls are offered tambourines and dolls, and boys are offered guns and firecrackers. Everyone goes outdoors, especially in the working class neighborhoods, to celebrate this memorable night. Girls chanting traditional songs and boys lighting fires and firecrackers.

Ashura is also associated with certain witchcraft rituals practiced by women to bring a loved one or tame a fierce husband. For this reason, the trade in herbs, amulets and talismans flourishes in some popular markets, as some people remain convinced that the effect of the magic practiced on this blessed night is likely to continue to work throughout the year.

The Ashura celebration ends at the end of the night, with another game called “Zamzam”, which consists in spraying passers-by with water, although this tradition has begun to take on the appearance of violence against passers-by, under everyone’s blessing.

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