In Morocco, children of every age celebrate Achoura Festival on the tenth day of Muharram. Families traditionally gather together to have special meals and offer zakat to the poor. Street celebrations, bonfires, and fireworks are other common ways of celebrating Achoura.
Trade, in toys and Taarija drums, is busy as the holiday gets closer. Stores of every size from the working class neighbourhood shops to large shopping centres stock new merchandise just for the Achoura celebration. Dolls, plastic guns, cars, masks, and every other toy imaginable are available. Toys for every budget make choices for the children and family difficult to make.
Some of the shop keepers will even put toys on the floor so that the smallest of the shoppers have access. In addition to the toys, sales of the Taarija drums are on the rise this time of year. They are a long time tradition of the Morocco festival. Children and adults will usually buy a new drum every season. Some have been collecting the Moroccan drums for many years. Friends and families will meet on the big day to play their drum while singing and dancing in Morocco.
Children take the celebrations to the street during the Achoura Festival. Most of them are waiting in anticipation for the big day of Zem Zem. Sharing a name with a well in Mecca, children are free to spray other children and adults with water. Bonfires are lit when evening comes. Participants, wearing new clothes, will sing, leap, and dance around the fires late into the night. In prior years children would set off rockets. This activity has been banned by the government because lack of supervision lead to many serious accidents involving children. Rocket sales are still made by the black market traders and in outlying villages.
On the 10th of Mouharram, which is Achoura Day, Moroccan families prepare a special couscous dish. It’s couscous with dried mutton ( guedid ). This spicy and tasteful meat is kept from the Sacrifice Feast, Aid Al Adha, until Achoura. In the evening, families and neighbours will meet together for a special meal of dried fruits ( hagouza ) and candies of all sorts and colours.
In some remote areas in Morocco, people still keep some traditions which no longer exist in urban ones. In the morning of Achoura Day, children wearing their traditional clothes and chanting “ bida bida lalla “ go from house to house asking the residents for some eggs, a piece of dried mutton or dried fruits, maybe a Halloween with a Moroccan flavour. Before noon, they decide where they are going to celebrate Achoura. One of the families of the village receives them and prepares a collective couscous dish with the meat they have collected in the morning. Many families and their children share in the feast.
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