Marrakech has been celebrating the Marrakchia Music festival since the Saadian dynasty in the 15th and early 16th century.It takes place in February each year and celebrates traditional music passed down by generations in honour of the seven patron saints or ‘Sabaatou Rijal’ of Marrakech.
The seven saints of Marrakech were: Qadi Ayad, Imam El Jazouli, Imam Souhayli, Sidi Youssef Ben Ali, Sidi Abdelaziz Tabbaa, Sidi Abdellah El Gazouani and Abou El Abbas Essebti. To represent these seven saints, musicians from seven districts, the El Moukkaf quarter, Bin Laarassi, Bab D’Bagh, Derb Dabachi, Sabtiyyine, Cashbah and Ben Salah, take part in the festival. During the Dakka Marrakchia Festival ordinary locals, such as shopkeepers, artists and craftsmen, become the heart of the event, filling the air with traditional music choral chants and rhthyms.
Groups of male musicians perform with percussion instruments and drums accompanied bychoral chants. Instruments include the lakrakash, taarija, naffar and tara.The Asdekaa Nakhil Association (their name means “Friends of the Marrakech Palm Tree”) organises the festival each year.
The followers of the Saint El Jazouli played an important role during the Saadian dynasty by establishing zaouias to give religious support to their cause the music reflects the fervour of those times as well as the traditions and civic pride of Marrakech.