Annual pilgrimage to the mausoleum of Sidi ‘Abd el-Qader Ben Mohammed (Sidi Cheikh)
Inscribed in 2013 (8.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
Every year, nomadic and settled Sufi communities undertake a pilgrimage to the mausoleum of the Muslim mystic, Sidi ‘Abd el-Qader Ben Mohammed (Sidi Cheikh), located in El Abiodh Sidi Cheikh. Beginning on the last Thursday of June, three days of religious rituals and secular festive events honour the founder of the brotherhood. The pilgrimage renews ties and secular alliances among the Sufi brotherhood and ensures peace and stability between communities. It has also contributed to the recent growth in Sufism and helped to promote community values such as hospitality and collective practices including praises to Sidi Cheikh, Koran recitations, secular chants and dances. The rituals begin with a choral recital of the Koran, followed by a dawn ceremony that renews the communities’ affiliation to the Sufi brotherhood. The secular festivities include fencing, dances and equestrian competitions that involve more than 300 riders from different communities. The spiritual knowledge is learned and transmitted within families, while Sufi masters convey the key Sufi rituals and prayers to the initiated through formal teaching. Men’s and women’s dances and secular games are taught within associations or transmitted through practice.
Decision 8.COM 8.1
The Committee (…) decides that [this element] satisfies the criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, as follows:
- R.1: The pilgrimage to the mausoleum of Sidi Cheikh joins sacred and secular festivities and provides the concerned communities with a sense of social and religious identity, constituting a space of social cohesion for them;
- R.2: Inscription of the element on the Representative List could amplify the awareness raising that took place during the nomination process and could further promote respect for cultural diversity and human creativity;
- R.3: Concrete safeguarding measures including scientific research, compilation of a database and inventory, training and creation of learning institutions have been proposed, focussing on both the sacred and the secular components of the element;
- R.4: Representatives of the Cheikhiya brotherhood and local authorities have participated in the preparation of the nomination and provided their free, prior and informed consent;
- R.5: With information provided by the communities concerned, the annual pilgrimage to the mausoleum of Sidi ‘Abd el-Qader Ben Mohammed (Sidi Cheikh) was included in 2010 in the national database of intangible cultural heritage of the Ministry of Culture.
These videos (and many more) can also be consulted through the UNESCO Archives Multimedia website