Annual pilgrimage to the mausoleum of Sidi ‘Abd el-Qader Ben Mohammed (Sidi Cheikh)


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Inscribed in 2013 (8.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

© CNRPAH, 2011

Every year, nomadic and settled Sufi communities undertake a pilgrimage to the mausoleum of the Muslim mystic, Sidi ‘Abd el-Qader Ben Mohammed (Sidi Cheikh), located in El Abiodh Sidi Cheikh. Beginning on the last Thursday of June, three days of religious rituals and secular festive events honour the founder of the brotherhood. The pilgrimage renews ties and secular alliances among the Sufi brotherhood and ensures peace and stability between communities. It has also contributed to the recent growth in Sufism and helped to promote community values such as hospitality and collective practices including praises to Sidi Cheikh, Koran recitations, secular chants and dances. The rituals begin with a choral recital of the Koran, followed by a dawn ceremony that renews the communities’ affiliation to the Sufi brotherhood. The secular festivities include fencing, dances and equestrian competitions that involve more than 300 riders from different communities. The spiritual knowledge is learned and transmitted within families, while Sufi masters convey the key Sufi rituals and prayers to the initiated through formal teaching. Men’s and women’s dances and secular games are taught within associations or transmitted through practice.