Muslims in a religious procession along the streets of Lamu Island during last year’s Maulid festival. [Photo: Maarufu Mohamed/Standard]
By Maarufu Mohamed

Lamu, Kenya: Lamu Island is expected to be abuzz with activity as the four-day Maulid festival kicks off on Monday.

According to the event’s Co-ordinator Mohdhar Khitamy, the festival that marks the birthday of Prophet Mohammed will bring together more than 50,000 Muslim pilgrims and tourists from Kenya and the world.

“This will be the 126th event since its inception and Muslim scholars and spiritual leaders are expected from Kenya, Comoros, Yemen, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Tanzania, Uganda and a group of large followers from the United Kingdom,” said Khitamy in Mombasa on Sunday.

He said the festival, which ends on Friday, is a spiritual event that involves overnight prayers held around the Riadha Mosque in Lamu where pilgrims will gather to pray, sing and chant praises of Prophet Mohammed.

“The climax will be on Friday afternoon with a mass religious procession along Lamu island’s seafront, through its narrow streets where pilgrims will be chanting religious songs and beating drums all in praise of Prophet Mohammed,” explained Khitamy.

No politics

He said the cultural activities would be held at the mosque’s grounds in the afternoons, adding that 50 bulls would be slaughtered to feed more than 50,000 Muslims expected to participate in the event.

“Also included is a weeklong free medical camp to be set up at the mosque’s compound with over 100 medical volunteers from Kenya, Spain, United Kingdom, and the Kenya Red Cross to assist both locals and visitors,” said Khitamy. He warned leaders attending the festival to keep off politics, as the event is purely religious.

The National Museums of Kenya in conjunction with the local Maulid committee has organised several cultural activities to run with the festivals.

The museum’s Senior Curator and Manager Salim Bunu said on Sunday that activities aimed at preserving Lamu’s culture and traditions during the festival had been sponsored by, among others, Kitui Flour Mills, Zuku, Grain Bulk Mombasa, Issa Timamy Foundation, US Embassy Cultural Affairs, Peponi Hotels, and KenGen.

Bunu said the events are designed to encourage local skills that are central to Lamu life. Some of the activities will include a dhow race usually staged along the island’s seafront, a swimming race and a donkey race.

Maulid festival Lamu Island