Festival of Nabi Musa: from Jerusalem to Jericho

The Taita Leila Jericho vest

Palestinians have always searched for ways to celebrate the arrival of spring, so April has traditionally been a particularly festive month. Many celebrations are steeped in spirituality and religious traditions, as we might expect in this holy land.

Nabi Musa festival refers to a week-long Palestinian-Muslim festival that brought people together from different areas near Jerusalem and Jericho before Good Friday in the old Orthodox Greek calendar; thus making a space for the Christians to celebrate their holiday in the holy city of Jerusalem. Traditionally, the celebration would begin in Jerusalem after Friday prayers, as people gathered around the sharia’a court house near Bab Al Silsileh by Al Aqsa Mosque. Led by a prominent qadi (judge) and the magistrate of the waqf, people would march their way to the Nabi Musa’s (Prophet Moses)tomb in Jericho, carrying banners of Islamic symbols from their hometowns and chanting traditional patriotic songs, women letting out the joyous and high-pitched zaghareet. Muslims from across Palestine would join the march, traditionally with a child from each town leading the procession along the road named for that town — the Nabulsis would walk down Nablus road and the Yaffawis on Yaffa Road, for example. Eventually all the processions would converge together and continue to Jericho.

Today, the holiday is no longer celebrated in Palestine due to various restrictions barring the mass movement from one place to another. However, many Jerusalemites live in warm, sunny Jericho in the winter to escape the cold in Jerusalem. One day, we hope to revive this march, but until then, we can wear Taita Leila’s Jerusalem and Jericho design (pictured) to commemorate the event!

Originally published at taitaleila.com on April 13, 2016.

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