Essaouira is one of the primary locations in Morocco where Gnaoua music comes to a focus. The Gnaoua World and Music Festival, unique in Morocco and held annually in Essaouira, is indicative of the cultural significance that Gnaoua music has in Essaouira.
Gnaoua is the music of the former slaves appropriated from Niger and surrounding countries by Moulay Ismael. Having no written history, the songs and the music constitutes their living history. Whenever their songs are played, parts of their history and philosophies are retold.
I attended a night of Gnaoua music in nearby Diabat several nights ago. Below are some photographs from that night.
One of the most important things to appreciate about Morocco is to regard legends and traditions with caution. Moroccans are born story tellers and some may welcome association with historical figures or events; embellishing stories and history is not unusual.
Jimi Hendrix, one of a number of famous western musicians who have visited Essaouira, flew into Casablanca in 1969 and spent 11 days in Morocco, which included some time in Essaouira. He travelled around Morocco by limousine and a chauffeur, and stayed in 3 different hotels, including “Hotel des Iles” in Essaouira, the most luxurious accommodation in the town at the time.
Fassis is the generic term for the inhabitants of Fes. Here are some portraits from around the city.
Assi Ghat is the southern most ghat in Varanasi where the Rivers Assi and Ganges join in confluence. It is a quiet ghat, popular with students from the close by Benares Hindu University, Hindu worshippers who bath before paying homage to Lord Shiva in the form of huge lingam situated under a peepal tree, and tourists who desire a quieter experience than that in central Varanasi.
Its origin is again bound up in Hindu folklore. The first legend states that after slaying Shumbh-Nishumbh, goddess Durga threw her sword away, and where it landed resulted in the emergence of a big stream ( the river Assi). Secondly, legends say that Lord Rudra was furious with Asuras. This fury has led him to slay eighty Asuras in a day. Eighty in Hindi would translate to Assi. So the place where these Assi (eighty) Asuras were slain, has been named as Assi Ghat.
Besides the river Ganges/Hooghly and traversing both sides of the mighty Howrah Bridge in Kolkata can be found the Mullick Ghat Flower Market, one of the largest flower markets in Asia. Both flowers and colour play substantial roles in the world of Hindu worship and everyday, in a fascinating spectacle of humanity, vendors and buyers meet to fulfill the spiritual requirement for flowers over west Bengal.
The market starts around 4 am in the morning with flower sellers from adjacent areas of Kolkata gathering with their colourful merchandise. The sellers displayed their merchandise – roses, marigolds, sunflowers, garden balsams and other flowers lay in all their colourful glory. There is utter chaos everywhere, the market is overcrowded, but the experience of seeing such a vibrant market is altogether unique. Quite obviously, the market becomes all the more booming during the festive and marriage seasons.
Mudras are gestures used in classical Indian dancing in order to visually convey both inner feelings as well as external events or activities. They also have a spiritual association where they facilitate the flow of energy in the subtle body and enhance the internal spiritual journey.