Morocco | About bulls and weddings

Larbi shouted as he burst through the door: "Ah, Mohammed! He wants to take the cow. But not strong. Crrrazy this man! If strong, he take him allll round the moshkee! To there! To there! But like this - he crazy!" 

I hadn't a clue what he was talking about, so I smiled weakly and tried to build up some enthusiasm. The village kids had other ideas. They grabbed me by the hand and out we went. My camera in tow. 

Hardly out the door - I suddenly had to cower against the wall as I almost got run over by a rather large, very black bullock that was heaving against a rope, held by a grinning Mohammed. Can I say at this juncture, that this particular Mohammed, was of the weedy, stringy type? 

Oh my god!? Tiny, feeble looking man, holding onto a very grim looking piece of rope, tied around the thick neck of a raging bull, snorting, heaving and wrestling, horns down. 

A pack of children were yilling and baying, spurring the beast on by prodding it with sticks. 

Are you kidding me?! 

The imagined dormant Pulitzer Prize winner in me, steeled against the flight-or-flight instinct and I kept taking pictures — surely blood will be shed today! 

Within minutes the bull wrestled Mohammed, still attached to the rope, out into the open field and mayhem erupted: the bull catapulting off in ever random directions and Mohammed being dragged head over heels after it, clinging on desperately.

I gawped, transfixed at Mohammed's unwavering, maniacal grin of genuine delight. He crrrrazy! 

Soon several men — of the reassuringly burly type — joined the ruck and submitted the beast: nose wedged in someone's crotch and horns being hung onto by two men, one horn each. What on earth is happening? 

The thought evaporated half-formed as in the next instant, Fatimah, mother of the groom, rushed out of the house, arms laden with wreaths of cheap plastic flowers. Er....? You've guessed it (or surely not!): in some twisted take on an old Spanish tradition, the Moroccans dress up a bullock as a pansy — a pound-store version of the bride! Said bovine is then paraded around the village roads, to the bride's house and back. 

To egg the bull on, a marching band (two trumpets, two drummers) create an almighty din — right behind the bull — smashing drums and screeching out such a shrill, discordant cacophony that I had the overwhelming urge to flee even faster than the bull. 

Short on the heels of the heaving, sweating men, still wrestling the beflowered bullock onto the desired route, follows a spectacle of bescarved, beshawled women, yilling and chanting. At their feet, screaming, trilling children scurry around - besides themselves with manic excitement. 

On the fringe of the mob, a pack of dogs, yapping in bewildered hysteria, galop alongside the procession, snaking its way around the dusty road. 

Poor, poor bull. Or should I say, bull-bride! 

Oh - and did I mention that four or five people, weave through the procession with wrought silver canisters held aloft, sprinkling everyone within shot, in sickly sweet orange blossom water? Vigorously.

 I learn later that the bullock is to be slaughtered for the feast that night. Holy hell! That poor bullock must have drawn the short straw- wishing he was destined for the bullring instead. 

At least there's some glory in such a death.