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Morocco’s Romeo & Juliet

A tragic love story … that became a festival of marriage – a happy ending for all!

According to legend, a young boy and a girl from two local tribes met and fell in love but their love was forbidden by their families who were sworn enemies. Hearts broken, the couple cried themselves to their death and their tears formed two lakes, named Lake Tisli (meaning bride in Berber) and Lake Isli (meaning groom). Out of guilt, both families started a Betrothal Festival or Festival of Marriage in honour of their memories on the anniversary of the couple’s death, allowing young people from both tribes to meet and marry each other.

Held every year around mid-September in a small town of Imilchil (located in the Middle Atlas Mountains in central Morocco), the Festival of Marriage today has become a popular attraction for both locals and tourists. The festival goes on for three days and is filled with Berber dancing, drumming and traditional music such as Talsint, Ait Hdidou and Nahla (a waltz of dancing bees). It is said that up to 40 couples tie the knot at the Festival each year and many others find their future life partner.

Dressed in colourful traditional clothing, young ladies are accompanied by their parents to help them find a suitable partner, while older ladies are able to choose their husband without parental consent. When a lady accepts a proposal from a man, she says “Tq massa n uchemt” which means “you have captured my liver” (!!)

Imilchil is best accessible from Erfoud, Er Rachidia, Midelt or Tineghir. If this has caught your interest and curiosity, contact us today to help you plan a visit to Imilchil in September to witness this happy event of love.

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