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Index / Religions / Berber religion

Statue of Anzar

In Berber religion, male god representing rain. To Anzar, qualities like the growing of vegetation, harvesting of crops and abundance of animals are related. Anzar was a god with strong sexual desires, these representing his fertile qualities.
Anzar was revered across a large geographical area, from northern Morocco, through Algeria to Tunisia. Many accounts tell that Anzar is revered also in modern ages, but it is not clear how common it is, nor what is the actual meaning of the cults. In Kabylia, Anzar cults seem to still have much vitality.
Rituals for Anzar were indirect, people celebrated his bride. There were 3 main forms of cults. In the first, the main activity was to create and dress up Anzar's bride. She was represented as a wooden human doll with hands formed as spoons to catch rain.
In another, Anzar's bride was central in large celebrations and processions. These were organized by women, but attended also by men. A young beautiful girl was chosen to be presented to Anzar as his bride. She could walk down to the dry river bed, where she stripped naked and held large spoons and offering herself to Anzar. She was then symbolically married to Anzar, and this unification would secure that the river would flow again.
During times of irregular drought, these rituals were carried out daily.
The third cult was naked women playing a ball game called kura. In some variations, the players had large spoons that were used to throw and catch the ball.
There are still celebrations of Anzar's bride, although with the religious meaning emptied, and reshaped to carnivals for children.

By Tore Kjeilen