Dakka Marrakchia Festival – A Musical Celebration

The Dakka Marrakchia Festival is not only part of the tradition in Morocco, but it is part of their heritage. It is a festival that has been passed down through the generations and dates back to the time when the Saadian Dynasty was in power in Morocco. Marrakech celebrates the Dakka Marrakchia Festival annually in the month of February. The rhythms and beats of this lively festival, lifts the spirit and pays tribute to the saints of the Marrakech region.

The spiritual patrons or saints of the region are referred to as Sabaatou Rijal. There are seven saints: Qadi Ayad, Imam El Jazouli, Imam Souhayli, Sidi Youssef Ben Ali, Sidi Abdelaziz Tabbaa, Sidi Abdellah El Gazouani and Abou El Abbas Essebti. To represent these seven saints, musicians from seven districts, namely the El Moukkaf neighborhood, Bin Laarassi, Bab D’Bagh, Derb Dabachi, Sabtiyyine, Cashbah and Ben Salah, take part in the festival. During the Dakka Marrakchia Festival ordinary locals, such as shopkeepers, artists and craftsmen, become the heart of the event, filling the air with traditional music and foot stomping beats.

Generally, male musicians perform the music that is played at the festival, and there is a lot of percussion, such as drumming, involved. The neighborhoods chosen to participate have been known for their exceptional musical talent throughout the centuries and traditional musical instruments are used and distributed during the festival. Musical instruments played by the Moroccan musicians are a combination of drums and are accompanied by choral chants. The instruments include, lakrakash, taarija, naffar and tara.

Each year the Dakka Marrakchia Festival is organized by the Asdekaa Nakhil Association (their name means “Friends of the Marrakech Palm Tree”). Their aim for the festival is to preserve this traditional event that is a part of their history and, hopefully, a part of their future. Trying to involve the youth by hosting workshops, conferences and exhibitions, educates the future generation on the history, folklores and cultural aspects of Morocco, and creates the interest and knowledge that will ensure the survival of this cultural festival. Visitors should try to attend the Dakka Marrakchia Festival, as it is a rare glimpse into a tradition that has been celebrated in Marrakech for over a thousand years.