The video is a 40 minute lecture by Professor Paul Walker that took place at The Institute of Ismaili Studies on 21 September 2010.
The Fatimids were famous for the remarkable variety of celebrations of feasts and festivals. In this talk, Paul Walker, drawing upon a range of historians – many of whom provided eye witnesses accounts – describes several celebrations such as the Ashura, ‘Id al-Fitr, ‘Id al-Adha, ‘Id al-Ghadir and the Dam Breaking ceremony. The Fatimids also encouraged celebration of some Christian festivals such as the Christmas and the Coptic New Year. Prof. Walker proposes that in most cases these celebrations intensified and became increasingly elaborate towards the last decades of the Fatimid era. The talk also discusses the socio-political significance of some of these celebrations, such as that of ‘Id al-Ghadir. Further, the role of rituals in stabilising the Fatimid rule over their religiously diverse subjects was discussed. Prof. Walker also notes areas that require further research to fill gaps in our knowledge of Fatimid rituals. The talk should be of value to anyone interested in the Fatimid era, court rituals as well as in inter-faith relations and history of religions.