Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Fes Festival Sufi Nights - Night 3

The Dar Tazi venue is proving popular, with audiences for the Sufi Nights growing each evening. The saying in the Medina, "if you want to draw a crowd offer a Sufi concert  - if you want a huge crowd offer the Hamadcha", was proven true. This popular tariqa (brotherhood) is thought of as the people's tariqa and at Dar Tazi, the people flocked, as Philip Murphy reports.

The Hamdushiyya
hiya jat, hiya jat, hiya jat, lalla Aisha! - Hamadcha chant
The tariqa Hamdushiyya, like the Sharqawiyya, is a branch of Shadhili/Jazuli Sufism. The order is named after `Ali Ibn Hamdush who branched out from the Sharqawa at the end of the 17th century. His body now rests in a tomb in Jabal Zerhoun near Meknes.

The Hamdushiyya of Fez are led by the charismatic Abderrahim Amrani Marrakchi (pictured above right). Before the concert he warmly greeted people entering Dar Tazi, gave interviews, and made sure that the skin heads on his drums were tightened from the heat of a coal fire.

Warming the drum skins

Abderrahim explained to me that the texts that the group would be singing come mainly from the poetry of al-Hamdush, al-Miki Ayyoub, and Muhammad al-Ganduz, along with prayers and ritual invocations to Allah, the Prophet, and various spirits or djinn.

The Hamdushiyya are known for their lila (night) ceremonies in which people participate in order to heal themselves of various ailments. Djinn or spirits that possess the sick person and inhabit their body causes these ailments and the lila ceremony is a time when the possessed can listen, dance, and fall into trance thereby appeasing their spirits. Trance heals by giving the possessed an opportunity for cathartic release and by harmonizing the relationship between possessed and possessor.

The performance tonight was not a full lila ceremony, but a staged show that incorporated pieces from the Hamdushiyya repertoire. However, it was immediately apparent the Abderrahim is no stranger to the stage. The crowd was, by far, the largest yet and as the garden in Dar Tazi filled it was clear that he was in his element. He led a procession of his group and audience members to the stage to begin the show, and immediately the audience was engaged and energized.

ghaita players

This energy never flagged, through the slower chants in heavy and irregular rhythms to the fast tempo, lively sections with screaming ghaitas (wooden oboes). By the end of the concert Abderrahim had the entire crowd on their feet chanting “hiya jat, hiya jat, hiya jat, lalla Aisha!” (she came, she came, she came, Aisha!), calling out to one of the main possessing spirits for the Hamdushiyya.

When the group finished the crowd begged for more and Abderrahim and the group repeated the same chant a little longer before sending the excited crowd out into the medina.

Story and photographs: Phil Murphy

The Sufi Nights continue tonight 23.00 @ Dar Tazi – free entry
Tonight: Machichiya Brotherhood (Tangier)

The Sufi Night reviews
Tariqa Skalliyya
Tariqa Sharqawiyya
Hamadcha Brotherhood
Tariqa Mashishiyya
The Isawa


Festival Programme
Festival in the City
Sufi Nights
Festival Forums
Festival Eating Guide
Art during the Festival #1
Art during the Festival #2
The Enchanted Gardens of Fez
Last Minute Accommodation

The View from Fez is an official Media Partner of the Fès Festival of World Sacred Music


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