Egyptians celebrated the haj journey with festivities that so resembled a wedding celebration. These events are carried out both before the journey starts, and after the travel comes home safe. Songs related to pilgrimage are sung, along with praise to Prophet Mohammad, joined with dancing to Mizmar (Pipe) and playing Tahtib (A battle game played by two men holding sticks). Drinks are served, and banquets are offered by the wealthy. Guests bring gifts or money, which is returned by the travellers when they return in the form of gifts brought back from the road. Ladies sing the pilgrimage songs during their preparations, while cooking, making drinks, or grinding wheat, and an atmosphere of festivities and happiness is spread around the household. These celebrations usually last up to a week.

Haj (pilgrimage) songs are divided into two sections; the first is when bidding the travellers a farewell, and the second are sung when they are greeted at returning.

There are three types of performers for these songs:

First: Men; and they are usually paid professional hired for these occasions.

Second: Elder ladies that sing older type of songs called Hanoun.

Third: Young girls and ladies, whose songs are more modern and faster in rhythm.

Examples of songs include:

“- Where are you going, with your velvet shawl?

  • I am going to visit Prophet Mohammad and the holy Ka’aba.”

“-Where are you going with your yellow shawl?

  • I am going to visit Prophet Mohammad, and please my eyes.”

“Fatma, Fatma, the daughter of our prophet, open the door for us, for your father has invited us.”

And since Egypt has been the central hub fir pilgrimage caravans coming either from northern or southern Africa.  Travellers used to spend time in Egypt before carrying on with their long voyages. Usually, Egyptians would open their homes for these guests and they would join those festivities.

Yusrya Moustafa Mohammad, Haj songs, its costumes and traditions, Folklore magazine 56,57
Ahmad al-Laythy, Haj songs in an upper Egyptian village, Folklore magazine 5.