Celebrated every year on the 12th day of the month of Rabî`al-awwal, Mawlid commemorates the birth of the Prophet Muhammad, founder of Islam. Between shared traditions and local customs, let’s discover how Mawlid is celebrated!
Mawlid is a celebration shared by the Muslim community in many countries around the world. It is a spiritual celebration meant to gather faithful at the mosque to read some passages of the Koran about the life of the Prophet. It is a way to remember his exploits and achievements. Many conferences are organised in mosques and are devoted to Koranic readings. One of Mawlid’s most famous poems is Qasidat al-Burda also known as the “Ode of the Mantle” which is an ode to prayer dedicated to the Prophet.
On this festive day, many educational and cultural activities are organised as Mawlid is also the opportunity to share values to the younger generations. It is also a family celebration where the tradition is to gather together as families to share good moments, traditional meals and offer each other gifts.
And local customs!
Although the meaning of the celebration is the same for all Muslims, some countries or cities are following local traditions whether for their culinary specialities or their ways to honour the birth of the Prophet.
In Morocco, Mawlid is celebrated with family around a table filled with typical Moroccan dishes. You will certainly find two very famous types of pancakes, the M’semen and the Baghrir, couscous or a special Mawlid bread sprinkled with sesame seeds. In Tangier, a special dish is even prepared for the celebration, the “caliente” which is made with flour, chickpeas, water, oil, salt and eggs, all cooked in the oven. Moroccan families also prepare couscous and bring it the Mosque in order to share it with the faithful. On occasion of Mawlid, many people choose to attend the Candle Convoy of Salé, a procession of large multi-coloured candles in the streets accompanied by songs and dances.
Tunisians wait every year for Mawlid to taste the famous Assidat Zgougou, a cream-based dessert prepared with grains of Aleppo pine. In Tunisia, Mawlid is a great family reunion but also a very important spiritual moment. Many faithful go to mosques to listen poems such as Al Hamzia, a poem composed of 456 verses that tell the story of the Prophet’s life. Tunisian families sometimes decide to organise major events such as weddings during Mawlid.
In Senegal, Mawlid is known in the Wolof language as “Gamou”. It is one of the most important religious celebrations in Senegal for the Muslim community which mainly takes place in the city of Tivaouane.
In Nigeria, the commemoration of the prophet’s birth is called Id el Maulud. Processions take place in most parts of Nigeria. Men, women and children gather together at a starting point and walk to a central mosque. They are generally a huge number of faithful. After praying time comes the time for a family meal.
In Pakistan, the entire month of Rabi`al-awwal is celebrated as the month of the Prophet’s birth. The atmosphere is very festive, the mosques are illuminated, the national flag is displayed on the buildings, the theatres are reserved to project religious movies… The country is known for giving Mawlid’s biggest celebration the night before the 12th in Minar-e-Pakistan or “The Tower of Pakistan” in the city of Lahore.
In Indonesia, Mawlid is celebrated in a very festive and coloured way between Muslim beliefs and Javanese traditions. Every year, a large procession is organised between the Royal Palace and the Great Mosque of Yogyakarta. For Mawlid, two royal gamelans accompany the procession. Pilgrims carry fruit cups in the shape of a Gunungan which are blessed by the sultan and are symbols of fertility. The food is then distributed to the faithful.
We wish you a very happy Mawlid!
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