Every fall the indigenous Berber people of northern Morocco gather in the mountain village of Imilchil, about four hours from Fez, for the traditional Imilchil Marriage Festival. While the dates shift based on the lunar calendar, the three-day event will take place this year September 23 to 25.
At the Imilchil Marriage Festival, youths from different tribes get the opportunity to meet potential spouses. Hosted by the Ait Hdiddou tribe, families from neighboring villages and their children of marrying age will meet to socialize around traditional rituals including singing, storytelling and dancing. Twenty-five thousand people participate in the festival, which includes an engagement ceremony followed by up to 40 marriages that take place around the tomb of a patron saint.
The reason the Imilchil Marriage Festival came to be is an interesting but sad story. Two young lovers from enemy Berber tribes killed themselves after their families prevented them from marrying because inter-tribal marriage was forbidden. Following this tragedy, the families granted freedom of choice to their children to marry whom they choose.