It is with enormous pleasure that I am able to document a group of women playing music in Essaouira. The Haddarates Souiriyattes practice regularly at La Recontre cafe which is next door to where I have resided. The chanting and drumming of Sufi music has certainly been an integral part of my living here. An association led by Latifa Boumazzourh ( who features on the heading photograph on the blog page ), they are certainly a vibrant and important part of local culture.
The Haddarates are a collective of women who have learned the art of Hadra ( song and rhythmic mystical performance ) orally from their mothers as well as other female relatives and friends. It is a feminine art traditionally practiced in houses between women. The Hadra with its varied rhythm ( slow, fast, hot and cold ) brings participants into trance; a state produced by a combination of music, dance, song, incense, colors, ethnic and religious beliefs. This unique combination constitutes the ritual of the Hadra. Hadra literally means ‘presence’, associated as meaning ‘present with Allah’.
In Essaouira the Hadra was, until 2005, only played in houses and homes between women. In 2005 a group of women, for the first time, performed Hadra in the international festival of Gnaoua in Essaouira. The Hadra was a great success and subsequently the Haddarattes of Essaouira have continued to perform.
Zaida Gania and members of her family initially led the first group of six women. The music subsequently became more popular and now commands its own festival on the stage at Place Moulay Hassan, Essaouira. The Hadra and Trance Music Festival was created in 2013 by of the Haddarates Souiriyattes, a local association of women, chaired by Ms. Latifa Boumazzourh.
The association supports the cultural and spiritual inheritance of Hadra and especially its female variations. It also highlights the role and importance of women in the Sufi tradition and enhances female roles in the culture of Essaouira.
The Festival encourages local songs from a range of Sufi traditions and influences. It also invites different national and international musical groups to fully explore the many variations of the music of Transe as well as offering a positive opportunity to support the the role of women in Sufi rituals and other traditional artistic expressions.
More information about Haddarates Souiriyattes and the Festival can be found on www.festivalhadra.com