Thousands attend Maulid Festival in Kenya’s historical town of Lamu
Over 6,000 guests and tourists from across the world are attending this year's Maulid Festival in Lamu, an ancient city in Kenya’s coastal region.
The festival is marked annually by many Muslims in remembrance of the birth of Prophet Muhammed (PBUH).
It is held every third month of the Islamic calendar and in Kenya the main Maulid ceremony hosted at Riyadha Mosque, the longest functioning and most influential Islamic teaching institution in East Africa.
This year’s Maulid celebration which started on Tuesday and ends on Friday is the 134th edition of the festival. In 2019, the Maulid festival attracted more than 30,000 people from across the globe, however nearly 6,000 are attending this year’s annual Maulid owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Riyadha Mosque and Islamic Centre secretary-general Abubakar Mohammed Badawy said on Wednesday that this year’s festival will be used to sensitize residents on the need for peace and unity as the country prepares for next year's election.
“In previous years, we would have more than 30,000 people, but this year is different because of the Covid-19 pandemic. We are only expecting about 6,000 people,” Badawy said.
"Our chief guest will be the secretary-general of Morocco's Sufi leadership, who has confirmed his attendance. Othman Maalim, a knowledgeable Muslim scholar and preacher from Tanzania, has also confirmed he will attend."
Lamu residents and guests will also benefit from free medical camps organised by Riyadha Health and Welfare Services Group, which has brought at least 45 medical specialists from Mombasa, Nairobi and other places.
The services will include free cancer screening, eye cataract surgeries and blood pressure tests.
By Tuesday, 19 patients with health problems, mostly eye cataracts, had been lined up for surgery.
The festival usually also incorporates competitions such as swimming, a donkey race, dhow sailing, football, Islamic calligraphy and general Maulid processions.
Other activities are traditional dances such as Kirumbizi, Goma la Barani, Goma la Pate, Goma la Siyu, Goma la Matondoni, Uta, and women's cultural activities such as Maulid weddings and gatherings.
The grand Maulid Festival, the climax of the event, is being held on Thursday.
A prize-giving ceremony for contesters will be take place on Friday at the Riyadha Mosque and Islamic Centre grounds.
Kenya’s Muslim community, accounts for at least 15 percent of the country’s population and lives mainly in the northeastern and coastal parts of the country.
The annual Maulid celebration
in Lamu was started by Habib hab Jamalullayl
who originally came from the Comoros Islands where Islam had spread many years