Cultural Snap Shot – CBT – Circumcision

Back dated to the weekend of Oct 2nd

Although in the United States circumcision is rarely something that would be talked about as a right of passage outside the Jewish community – I say this as I have yet to hear a conversation or participate in one about this topic relating to other communities – in Morocco it’s a passage between being a baby to being a soon to be man.  In our host family, this age is around 4 – 5 years old.

I was invited along with Kristen who lives downstairs with her host family to attend the circumcision of a cousin’s son.  This is a private family only event.  I felt honored to be invited and included.

As my host family is conservative – women sat separate from the men.  We spent a good amount of time staring at each other’s outfits and whispering amongst ourselves – particularly Kristen and I – trying to figure out who exactly was the mother of the boy who was getting circumcised but we figured it out once the singing and drumming began.

Our host families are originally from Nador and are Northern Berber.  So when the women began to drum and sing it was all in Berber, which left myself, and Kristen for a loss…, as we didn’t understand a thing they sang about. It would have been especially nice to understand once they started singing about us to us!

Soon the singing came to a halt once the food was served.  The “guest” of honor disappeared during this time – while all the guests were distracted by food – and reappeared shortly crying and walking awkwardly seeking out his mother’s lap to be comforted in.

For this occasion the young boy was dressed in a pristine white jellaba, kufi and Moroccan slippers.  Interestingly enough his hands and feet were also hennaed but without patterns as the women’s are done for weddings and Eid.

I was lucky enough to be able to hold a baby of one of the ladies at the gathering – a smiley chubby bundle of cuteness – who had a strong bond with his grandmother as she as 90% of Moroccan women do – carry their babies on their backs in shawls.

The grandmother was also an interesting character as she had her face tattooed as Berber women do after they are married although this practice is now extremely rare in the majority of Morocco.

After the family was full of sweets – everyone said their goodbye’s and headed home as the sunset.


One thought on “Cultural Snap Shot – CBT – Circumcision

  1. The tattoos are not a sign of “marriage” both my grandparents have them.
    They told me, they are done because when they were younger… the jewish community was prevalent and very mixed with the Moroccans. Also both dressed very alike. Many many moroccan men married Jewish girls. And the Moroccans decided that a way to tell them apart was to tattoo themselves. Out of Ignorance as they were not literate and did not know it was Harram.
    But they did it to show themselves as being Moroccan. And the ones who did not have tattoos were jewish girls. That happened in Oujda, Taza and surrounding areas.

    Also the tahara/circumcision is traditionally done in Islam, 7 days after the birth of the baby. Unfortunately again, Moroccans lost sight of the religion and started to delay this until the child reached 10 years for no good reason!!!

    Alhamdulillah the educated Moroccans who know about their deen have started to practice Tahara correctly during the first 7 days of the babies life.

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