Of all moussems (Muslim festivals) the one in Imilchil every late September has become the most famous around the world. This small mountain village is by itself nothing spectacular compared to other villages in the region, but the festival is a time of colourful clothes, flirting and dance.
The small Berber population of the Imilchil region (1858 inhabitants approximately) is scattered in very small villages, therefore, to find a prospective spouse is quite difficult.
During the unique Imilchil Festival, also known as the Betrothal Festival, the young “candidates” congregate to see and possibly meet with each other, under the approving eye of their families.
Luckily for the girls, and according to the custom, it is them who choose the future husband.
Widows and divorcees are also allowed to look for another husband during the festival. Although in the past only families from the region attended the Imilchil Festival, nowadays outsiders are also allowed.
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Origin of the Imilchil Festival
The origin of the Imilchil Festival is based on a romantic yet tragic legend. A young girl and a young man, belonging to rivalling Berber tribes fell madly in love, very much against the wishes of their families. The two families forbade the union and the lovers were so unhappy and cried so much, that two lakes were formed with their tears – the Isli and the Tislit Lakes.
Both lovers died by drowning. The two rival tribes were so moved by the couple’s suicide, that they decided from then on that they would allow their young people to choose their spouses from any tribe. A lovely tradition that is still alive today.