CAIRO: Upper Egypt’s Luxor governorate celebrated Wednesday the closing ceremony of its annual festival of Moulid Abu el-Haggag.
Ministry of Endowment set a huge marquee / pavilion nearby Abu-el Haggag mosque to house locals that participated in the religious festivity which was attended by Luxor governorate Major General Tarek Saad el-Din along with public figures and representatives from Al Azhar institution.
The holiday of Moulid, literally meaning birthday, is an annual religious event that features the birthday of a revered Islamic figure whose contributions to Islam are appreciated by Muslims. Almost each city in Egypt celebrates the Moulid of a ‘patron’ Shiekh who was a popular figure and either born or buried within the city.
The moulid of Abu el-Haggag lasts thirteen days and takes place two weeks before the start of Ramadan. Its date is moveable as Ramadan moves backward twelve days each year.
The last day of the Moulid features young people and adults carrying a boat in a tour through the streets of the city and ends at the mosque of Abu el-Haggag inside Luxor Temple. The festival also features booming music, loud cheers, folk music of Upper Egypt, camels dressed in colorful riggings along with Tahteeb, a traditional Upper Egyptian stick fight.
The festival, though Islamic, seems to be based on an ancient Egyptian festival named the Opet, with its details, similar to Abu el-Haggag’s, are carved at the walls of Luxor temple.
The Opet was also an annual celebration during the New Kingdom Period (1580 B.C-1080 B.C) that used to take place in Thebes, the Greek name for Luxor. The festival featured statues of God Amun-Ra placed in a barge and escorted in a joyous procession of three kilomaters from Karnak temple to Luxor temple through the Sphinx Avenue linking the two temples. The celebration was the only time when public has the chance to see the statue of Egypt’s universal God Amun-Ra. It was also accompanied by joyful features of dancing and music and was held in the second month of Akhet, the season of the flooding of the Nile.
The Moulid of Prophet Mohamed, known as “Al Moulid Al Nabawy” is the most famous religious event celebrated in the Islamic world. Moulid Al Hussein, who was the grandson of prophet Mohamed and the son of the fourth Orthodox Caliph Ali Ibn Abi Taleb is possibly the most significant religious event in Egypt. Al Hussein has his own mausoleum installed within a mosque that bears his name in Cairo’s vibrant quarter of Khan El Khalili.
Sheikh Yusuf al-Haggag was an Islamic cleric born in Damascus in 1145 and moved to Mecca before eventually settling in Luxor where he is regarded as Luxor’s patron Sheikh. The 800-year-old mosque that visitors to Luxor temple see belongs to Sheikh Abu el-Haggah. The mosque, which is still in service, houses a mausoleum of Abu el-Haggag and was built on top of Luxor temple which was then buried under sands. The sheikh is strongly believed to be buried in that mausoleum.