By Dr Ikram Adnani- Research associate at the Arab center for scientific research and humane studies.
On the Valentine day, Dr Adnani takes the readers on a journey to a traditional collective wedding celebration in Morocco featuring an Amazigh village, which has preserved an ancient custom.
The Amazigh community of Morocco has also been very active in preserving its cultural heritage. As such traditional customs of the community are still alive. The new Moroccan constitution recognizes the Amazigh language as national language and as common heritage of all Moroccans, which can help in further celebrating and promoting the traditions of this ancient community.
Imilchil is the Amzigh name of a village in the south of Morocco which has reached notoriety thanks to a specially year celebration. Indeed each year the village hosts large collective wedding celebration for new couples from the village and the neighboring region. The celebration takes place after the harvest season and before the new agricultural year. The celebration is also an occasion to engage in trade, exchange and meet relatives.
It is said that a legendary love story is behind the celebration. According to the legend, a young men and women from two traditionally conflicting tribes felt in love with each others. However, their tribes would not allow them to be together for their long lasting animosity. Both lovers according to the legend cried heavily causing the formation of two small rivers; Isli and Tislite which respectively translate as groom and bride. Moved by their story, both tribes allowed their members to marry each others.
Today and beyond the legendary aspect, the Imilchil yearly weeding celebration plays an economic and social role as it enables youth to marry at low cost which indeed has its significant in region deeply affected by poverty. The celebration also attracts tourists providing additional revenues for the village.
Nevertheless, one cant ignore some rather dark sides associated with this celebration. Girls under age get married which once again questions the efforts toward girls schooling. Indeed, once married, young girls will quit school and see themselves prematurely in charge of a new family with all the responsibilities and duties that come with it in rural part of Morocco.
One cant ignore that such celebration emphasizes the importance of accepting and celebrating cultural diversity within the Arab world, a part of the world where minorities rights are not always respected.