Festivals in Mali

Image - Dogon Mask Festival

Festivals of Mali bring out the vibrant culture of the country. Mali is a butterfly shaped land in West Africa. There are many tourist attractions in the place including beautiful scenery, artistically designed mosques and many villages. Tourists from all over the world visit the place throughout the year. The people of the region celebrate different festivals in the different seasons of the year. These festivals are very colorful events and are popular both among the locals as well as the tourists. Some of the major Festivals of Mali are:

Dogon Mask Festival

The Dogon people, living on a huge escarpment in the Bandiagara area of central Mali, are known for their myths, cosmology, and mask dances. The Dogon recreate the large-scale view of the universe and mythology passed down from their ancestors through mask dances performed at funeral ceremonies, the Sigui festival held every sixty years, and the Dama ceremony held once every twelve years to worship the spirits of their ancestors.

During the Dama ceremony, the men retreat into caves to mourn the souls of those who have died in the past twelve years, where they make masks. The souls of the dead are said to reside in the masks, giving them the power to ward off evil spirits. For five days, men wearing these masks stage performances, having run down narrow paths from the cliff tops. The ceremony features sirige masks that bind the spiritual world with the world of the living, and masks symbolizing Amma the god of creation. Water buffalo and hyena masks appear toward the end of the ceremony to tell the Dogon's future. After the ceremony, the souls of the dead are recognized as ancestors protecting the Dogon.

Deegal (Cattle Crossing Festival)

Every year an enormous festival accompanying the crossing of the cattle is held in the villages of the Fulani of Mopti. This festival celebrates the return of the herders who set out to drive their cattle across the Sahel. According to Fulani custom, young men spend a year away from their village herding cattle, and on their return they report their experiences. The evaluation of these reports has great bearing on the subsequent position of these young men in village life. This festival is also of great interest to prospective wives. On the day that the men return, the whole village is in festival mode from morning till night. There is eating, singing and dancing, and the air pulses with energy of people interacting. For the young Fulani men it is an honor to participate in the herding, this being one of the "rites of passage" to attaining manhood.

Festival on the Niger

This is one of the most important Festivals of Mali. This is a festival that is held annually in the first few days of February. It is held in the banks of river Niger which is located in Segou. There are musical and dance performances by the artists of the region.

Festival in the Desert

Festival in the Desert is an annual concert in Essakane, Mali, showcasing traditional Tuareg music as well as music from around the world. The Tuareg band Tinariwen first garnered international attention with their performance at the 2001 Festival.

Last Updated on Monday 15th March 2010