MOROCCO: Tbourida

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  • MOROCCO:  Tbourida

Tbourida, also known as Fantasia, is a traditional Moroccan equestrian festival that is deeply rooted in the country's rich history and cultural heritage. This spectacle brings together skilled horse riders, Arabian horses, vibrant traditional costumes and music. Tbourida is a celebration of horsemanship, bravery, and teamwork. The origins of Tbourida can be traced back to ancient Moroccan warfare, where riders would showcase their bravery and prowess in battle. Today, Tbourida has evolved into a highly organized and competitive festival that is celebrated in various regions across Morocco, particularly during special occasions such as weddings, religious holidays, and national events. The one I encountered was staged on the outskirts of Marrakech.

The riders in Tbourida are organized into teams, each led by a captain, and they compete for the title of the best troupe. Each team sets up its tents in a designated field, where riders are attired and equipped, and horses are saddled. Each grouup slaughters a sheep as a sacrifice and butchers it for an evening feast following the day’s events. The festival typically begins with a grand procession, with riders dressed in dazzling traditional attire, adorned with colorful ribbons, and carrying decorative rifles. The riders and their horses move in unison, performing intricate formations and maneuvers. The climax of Tbourida is the collective charge, known as "moukala," where all the riders gallop in unison towards a designated point, and at a signal, they fire their traditional muskets into the air simultaneously.

Tbourida is not only a thrilling spectacle but also a symbol of Moroccan cultural identity, as it embodies the country's rich equestrian heritage and the spirit of bravery, teamwork, and community. It is also an important social event that brings people together from different villages and walks of life, fostering camaraderie, and promoting cultural exchange. Tbourida was inscribed in the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2021.