These photos were taken a few weeks ago on the major festival day here in our city. I managed to drag myself out of bed before sunrise to go and watch the morning prayers at the mosque, which are a big deal in our city, and I knew there would be a large crowd. I didn’t want to miss it! Sure enough, it was an amazing experience, watching thousands of men gather and in unison recite their prayers. There was a low pitched rumble as they all spoke as one…almost shaking the ground, it seemed. It was a powerful experience, and I was moved.
The prayers went on for some time, and then suddenly, they were over. Men and boys were instantly up, putting on their shoes, grabbing their prayer mats and either heading home for a feast, or gathering with friends to exchange well wishes, or giving alms to the poor and needy who had gathered as the men prayed.
Then after some time, as the men milled about, and the crowd slowly dissipated, drums began to reverberate through the air. I looked about to see where they were coming from, but couldn’t see anything, other than hordes of men running back towards the mosque. As I still couldn’t see what was going on, I decided to join them to see if I could figure out what all the excitement was about. As I walked, I looked up, and saw them! A group of musicians had placed themselves high up on the roof of the mosque, and the drums were pounding! As I got closer, I could see a circle had formed. In the middle of the circle were men.
With joyful abandon.
It was amazing to watch. Hundreds of men all dancing in a circle, in movements that were obviously deeply known and loved. They radiated joy and excitement. Laughter erupted from their mouths, as others danced solitarily…almost in contemplation. Old and young together. Joining together in a ritual of community and joy.
And so here I share with you some photos of that day…
With joyful abandon (the dancing)…