steel ritual called "Tahdid" was celebrated to fend
off the evil eye and demons "Jnouns" from new borns
before circumcision. Why steel ? It was believed that steel was
a fail-proof remedy to chase away the demons.
After the delivery, the
new mum was surrounded by numerous protections to safeguard her
and her child from the evil eye, especially if the baby was a
From the time of delivery,the mother would remain in bed until
the day of circumcision. Maybe it was intended to protect her
from the outside world or to help her regain her strenght.
Sheets of paper with "Hamsas"(hands) and fish drawings,
as well as parchements with "Hjabat", biblical texts,
were placed in the room of the new mum. The "Hjabat"
were delivered in person by the temple rabbi who came with his
students. They would knock on the door singing a blessing at the
sound of the neighbors' "you-you".
As an added safety, under the bed of the new born, were placed
a knife and some salt, to fend off evil spirits and on top of
the bed was placed a crown made of cooked dough.
In the evening, as all the evenings during the seven days before
the circumcision, the guests would gather at the house of the
new born. As with all celebrations, first there would be drinking,
laughing and especially copious eating. Two singers and poets,
would sit on each side of the door, and engage in poetical and
musical exchange called the "Hrobi", praising the qualities
of the mother and child, and amusing the guests.
It's at midnight, the hour of the demons,that begin the Tahdid
or ritual of the sword.
Men would remain in the room,women would walk out and close the
door. Men only were entrusted with the sensitive task of chasing
the demons. The guests would sing with great faith while a family
member would trace the walls,door and windows all around the room
with a sword. By this gesture, they insured the new born protection
against the "Jnouns" until the day he was circumcised,
after which he would be protected by God as a member of the people
Some say that the origin of the "Tahdid" comes from
the "Chant of Chants" the "Chir Hachirim"
where it is mentionned that the king Solomon was in bed surrounded
by sixty soldiers, each one of them holding a sword.
The ritual of the "Tahdid" ,eventhough scarce, is still
practiced by some faithful to the ancient traditions of the Moroccan