On this Valentine’s Day celebrating lovers worldwide approach, I would like to tell you a beautiful Moroccan love story…
The legend of Isli and Tislit: an impossible love story
Long ago, in the heights of the Moroccan Atlas, lived two Berber tribes, the Ait Atta and the Ait Haddidou. They were engaged in a continuous war since centuries.
One day, Isli, a charming young man, great and valiant from the Ait Atta tribe, and Tislit, a sweet young woman of bewitching beauty, belonging to the Ait Haddidou tribe, met and fell madly in love.
From then on, the two lovers gave each other pure and profound love.
It goes without saying that the fathers of the two young lovers, did not get excited for this idyll. In fact; they showed great determination to put an end to it.
But, both lovers could not bring themselves to accept to live far from each other. So, they fled to the mountain of Isslan, where they cried for days. Eventually, drowning in their inexhaustible tears.
According to the legend, their tears gave birth to the two lakes of the High Atlas, which bear their names. It is also believed that Isli and Tislit, Morocco’s Romeo and Juliet, come out of their lakes every night to meet again.
Today, their love is celebrated every year in Imilchil, during the “Moussem of engagments”.
Moussem of Imilchil: an everlasting love story
It took the death of the two lovers for the tribes to reconcile, and create the moussem of engagement, an unmissable event in the region.
Thus, the Imilchil engagement festival is held yearly. It usually takes place in September, after the harvest and transhumance.
Every year, young people in search of their soul mate gather near the mausoleum of Sidi Ahmed Oulmghani. This descendant of the Idrisid chorafas, is said to have been much involved in the reconciliation process between the two rival tribes, from which originate the two unfortunate lovers.
On this occasion, the whole region drapes in joy.
The engagement Festival
For the occasion, women wear their finest dresses and adorn with their most valuable silver jewelry. Berber fibulas, brooches that have become a symbol for Berbers are a must have.
Also, boys looking forward to get married, put on their best suit and do not miss on the occasion of wearing their yellow cheche. These are specific from the Berbers of the mountains, and totally different from the blue cheche worn by the nomads of the desert.
During the moussem, young people look at each other and start to get to know each other.
Then, comes the time for folk songs and dances. Musicians, storytellers and poets sing women and love. Men invite the girls they like to dance. If they share the same feelings, they make an appointment for the following year, to get married. So, they have a whole year to get to know more each other and give a chance to their love story to grow.
The wedding ceremony
The moussem is place to group weddings for the ones who are interested. Imilchil is the only place in Morocco where this custom takes place!
Hence, notaries coming exclusively to the moussem, in order to seal these unions. This custom prevents villagers from having to move to the nearest administrative center, which may sometimes be several hundred kilometers away.
Ultimately, visitors and tourists flock to these exceptional celebrations, that according to historical accounts, may well date back to centuries.
Now, if it is not already done, the most important task remains to fall in love with someone who is both your safe place and your biggest adventure.