maulidi celebrations in lamu town, lamu island, kenya.
maulidi is a religious festival and annual celebration held in lamu during the third month of the muslim calendar to commemorate the birth of the prophet mohammed. this year marked the 121st celebration on the island, which attracts faithful celebrants from all over east africa and the middle east, as well as tourists from around the world.
maulidi is lamu’s unique and purely east african version of the religious festival, milad-un-nabi. centered around religious celebrations and the riyadha mosque, the festivities last for several days, featuring an array of cultural activities throughout town. there is elaborate drumming and dancing, and competitions that honor traditional culture — bao games, dhow races, swimming competition, and the donkey race, as well as poetry and embroidery. the festival is a source of great pride for the entire community, and the festivities truly ignite the island with excitement. it is amazing to witness such appreciation and devotion from such a united and connected community.
on the last day of maulidi, all of the men of gather at the town cemetery to pray and begin a procession into town. the procession is unreal — endless rows of men in white kanzu and kofia march through the streets, holding hands and dancing and singing in loud celebration. they move along the seafront towards the centre of town, accompanied by drums, and greeted by throngs of people on every corner. i wandered through the streets looking for a good spot, and was welcomed into a doorway on one of the good corners, which gave me a perfect view as they moved from the dock and into the streets of town. rose water is poured and splashed on everyone, including bystanders, and at the end i was completely drenched in the sweet smell, my ears ringing with the sounds of their singing, and absolutely in love with maulidi.
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lamu island, kenya – 2010:
part I :: lamu :: shela village.
part II :: lamu :: maulidi.
part III :: lamu :: dhow races.
part IV :: lamu :: shela primary school.
part V :: kiwayu :: island life.
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