The LiLA

The ancient musical rituals of the Gnawas are, even to this modern day, revered and practiced to invoke a connection into our spirit realm. It allows one to introspect deeply and open the mind’s eye. The Lila ritual usually takes place over the course of an entire night, ending around dawn. It is known to enable some participants to enter the trance state of jadba, in which they may perform startling and sometimes spectacular dances. It is by means of these dances that participants negotiate their relationships with the saint/spirits (melk). The ritual ultimately aims to cleanse and exorcise negative energy through its process. These are ancestral believes, but many participants find themselves reaching a level of trance/meditation, stimulated by musical rhythms, colors and fragrances led by the Gnawa musicians.


The Lila is divided into 7 parts. Each part is associated with a melk (saint) and particular color. When a melk is invoked, the Gnawa plays its corresponding music and sings its invocations while burning its scent.  When participants want to enter the floor they are immediately covered in the appropriate color and encouraged to let the music and spirit move them.  Because the mluk must be invoked in a certain order, the lila follows a path through the night, and each encounter is celebrated with the sensory realm of sound (music, song), sight (colors), smell (incense), and movement (dance).

During the Lila, each color/phase is introduced and celebrated individually: