Festivals

National festivals

Since the majority of Nigeriens are Sunni Muslim, national holidays and celebrations centre around Islamic festivals.

A group of people sitting, Niger

These include the major festivals of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. (‘Eid’ – also spelled ‘Id’ – means festival.)

Eid al-Fitr is the 'Festival of the Breaking of the Fast’, which marks the end of Ramadan. During the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast during daylight hours. At the end of this time, there is a big celebration and feast.

Eid al-Adha is the ‘Festival of Sacrifice’. It remembers the time when God tested Abraham by asking him to sacrifice his own son, but gave him a lamb in a nearby bush instead. (Abraham is an important prophet in Islam, as well as a central figure in the Jewish Torah and the Old Testament of the Bible.) During the festival, animals such as sheep or goats are killed by those who can afford it in honour of Abraham’s obedience and some of the meat is shared among the poor.

Taking on a bull

Another annual celebration with cattle as its focus is the Hawan Kaho, where men grab the long straight horns of a large bull and ride the animal's head.

Local festivals

There are also many local festivals in Niger, particularly among nomadic groups. One of the most famous is the Cure Salée which literally means ‘salt cure’. Cattle-herders come together in their groups in September to celebrate the fattening of their animals after the summer rains and migration. The largest Cure Salée gathering takes place at Ingal, 70 miles west of Agadez, where there are wide salt flats.