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Thursday، 19 May 2016 - 12:00 AM

Religious occasions are common in the history of nations. Ceremonies to mark these occasions persist and may outlive the original significance of the religious events. A tradition similar to the Moulid was observed in Pharaonic Egypt as well as in the Christian world where such events are still related to names of saints (St. Paul in Malta, St. Sava in Yugoslavia, St. Jacob in Spain and others). Egyptian Copts celebrate the birthdays of Mar Guirgis, Mar Mina, St. Theresa and other saints. It is significant that both Copts and Muslims take part in these celebrations that stand out as national events.

The Moulid does not necessarily refer to the birthday of a holy man. It may as well refer to the date of his death.

Celebrating a Moulid can stretch for a week. In certain cases it may extend longer Mouleds are observed to honor holy men and perpetuate their memory regardless of their actual birthdays, which are mostly unknown. There are two main categories of religious celebrations in Egypt.

First category:
The first category includes general religious occasions: the Bairam and the greater Bairam, the Prophet’s birthday, the beginning of the Hijri year, Al-Israa’ wa Al-Mi’raj and mid Sha’ban.

Second category:
The second category includes Mawaled of holy men such as A1Hussein and Al-Sayeda Zeinab Mawaled, Mawaled of holy men that belong to the ’Sufi’ traditions.

Mouled ritual then consists of three elements: the visit to the shrine, al-zikr (reciting the name of God) and the procession.

’Zikr’ may be recited to the accompaniment of music to attract greater number of people who may later on join the ranks of the followers.

A visit to the shrine of a ’wall’ (a holy man) involves honoring him and appealing to him for support so that the visitor may come back the following years.

Folkloric Elements:
A folkloric aspect of Moulid celebrations may be summed up in folk sings, folk music, folk proverbs, folk tales and folk games.

Folk Songs:
Oral transmission keeps the memory of these songs. Such songs are sung by ear, as no written record is available.

Folk Proverbs:
Proverbs depend on oral transmission of folk knowledge. They are concise and involve well-contrived metaphors. As proverbs originate from all classes in society and reflect day-to-day experiences, they are an excellent source of study for sociologists and anthropologists who trace the social and moral development in their societies.

Folk Tales:
Folk tales is the most common type of folk literature. They are related in’ mawaled’ by ’rawis’ (folk singers) to the accompaniment of a ’rababa’. They have a powerful and moving effect on their audience who generally look upon them as moral anecdotes. Folk games serve for entertainment. They depend upon simple activities that require the least of equipment such as pulling, dragging, running, jumping, balancing and hide and seek. Chance as well as efficiency plays a role in making such games interesting.

Grown-ups as well as children take part in shooting and games of chance. Children take turns at swings.

Upper Egyptian ’mawaled’ are characterized by horse dances to the tunes of music. Competitions are set up and participants show off their talents in horse riding. ’Mawaled’ preserve the cultural and identity of folk tradition and pass it on to next generations. They thrive upon the heritage of a community and contribute to enriching it as creativity in a fistic activities involved in such occasion greatly encouraged.

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