Thousands of Murid pilgrims converged on the holy city of Touba to participate in the annual Grand Magal, an annual pilgrimage of the Mouride community in Senegal.
Faithful braved traffic jams and heat to perform this religious duty often by surrounding the Great Mosque, the epicenter of the ‘Great Magal’ celebration.
‘‘In his participation in the Magal and the role of Serigne Touba, he asked all the mourides to do the thiante with him, which is why we are here and every year we come here”, said Diagne Fatou Cissé, a pilgrim.
The “Magal” known as celebration in Wolof, a native dialect in Senegal, marks the anniversary of the departure of the founder of Mouridism, Sheikh Ahmadou Bamba (1853 and 1927) in 1895 in the Muslim calender .
The religious leader, who never raised his arms, was forced by the French colonial authorities into exile in Gabon between 1895 and 1902 and Mauritania between 1903 and 1907. He was then placed under house arrest in the north of the country. He is revered by millions of faithful in Senegal and the diaspora.
Throughout the weekend, pilgrims will attend recitations of the Qur’an and ‘khassaids’, poems written by Sheikh Ahmadou Bamba, take part in prayers in the mosque to the seven minarets and gather on the tombs of the founder of Mouridism and his sons and successors, all considered saints.
The faithful will also share the traditional ‘berndel’ or a banquet, a gargantuan meal consisting of oxen, sheep, chickens, camels, fish, rice, fruit and cold drinks, served at will in each family.
Senegal is a country known for its religious tolerance and has more than 90% of Muslims, adhering mostly to Sufi Islam, who are represented by different brotherhoods, including that of Mourides, one of the main religions.
This year, the Grand Magal was attended by Senegalese President Macky Sall.