3 – 7 November 2014

Essyahet 3Essyahet 1

Siwa’s ‘Essyahet’ festival takes place at the Egyptian oasis of Siwa, located approximately 300 km to the southwest of Marsa Matrouh, during the first full moon after the date harvest (October/November) each year.

The history of this celebration spans more than 150 years. In many primitive agrarian societies, disputes over land and water usage were common since protocols for sharing these finite resources were seldom established. After numerous disputes and discussions, a Sufi sheikh from outside Siwa, finally instilled peace by ordering all Siwan men to attend a meeting by the village of Dakrour hills. There, the men were compelled to pray to God for harmony, each of them refusing to leave until all outstanding quarrels had been settled. It is these very meetings that mark the beginning of the Siwa festival.

The celebration takes place in Dakrour, roughly 3 km from the center of Siwa. Nearby mountain slopes are dotted with abandoned houses that fill with people who have come to take part in the three-day festival. Siwans erect temporary huts, tents and stalls for the event. Visitors from Marsa Matrouh, Alexandria and elsewhere come to enjoy the occasion with the locals.