Photos of A Muslim Sunat ceremony, Kosovo

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A Muslim Sunat ceremony

Islam, mostly Sunni, with a Bektashi minority, is the predominant religion in Kosovo. It was brought into the region with the Ottoman conquest in the 15th century and is now nominally professed by most of the ethnic Albanians, by the Bosniak, Gorani, and Turkish communities, and by some of the Roma/Ashkali-"Egyptian" community as well. Islam, however, hasn't saturated Kosovar society, which remains largely secular.

Celebration in Rečane
 
Dance by the men
 
Playing music
 
Dance by the women
 
Village dance
 
Dance around drummers
 
Girls of Rečane
 
Playing the zurla
 
Zurla and tupan
 
Playing the ''zurla''
 
Zurla player
 
Young tupan player
 
Women watching dance
 
Accompanying dance
 
Men and boys dance
 
Music marching off
 
Musicians show off
 
Playing the tupan
 
Tupan players
 
Before circumcision
 
Taken to his circumcision
 
Boy with imam
 
After circumcision
 
Traditional dress
 

Muslim boys are traditionally circumcised and this ceremony, called by its Arabic name "Sunat" is a great celebration. In Rečane (Reçani), a small village inhabited by Bosniaks (Bosnians, speaking Serbo-Croat), about 10 kilometres south east of Prizren, a "Sunat" ceremony took place. There was music from a four-man ensemble consisting of two "zurla", a high-pitched oboe-like woodwind instrument and two large "tupan", large Turkish-style double-headed drums; one of the very enthusiast and inexhaustible drummers was a twelve year old boy. The "zurla" players often managed to hold a note indefinitely, by breathing through their nose and simultaneously blowing through their instrument, using their cheeks as a bagpipe. Men and boys would dance in a long line, holding hands or with arms around each other's shoulders. The women and girls danced separately. This went on all day until the musicians marched off.

The following day Avzija Sagdati, the ten year old boy for whom this ceremony was performed, was dressed in his best suit, with a gold coloured cardboard crown on his head emblazoned with the word "Mašallah", an Arabic phrase of joy, praise or thankfulness, meaning "God has willed it" - a common expression of people in the Balkans who once lived under Turkish rule. Well-wishers stuffed paper money (Yugoslav dinars in those days) in it. Avzija was then hoisted on a horse, with the imam of the local mosque behind him, and paraded through the village, while everyone walked along, the musicians playing as they went, and all his friends chanting "inshallah!" (God's will) followed by a high-pitched yell. Eventually they arrived at a spot, screened off by a curtain and Avzija was held upright, an embroidered cloth over his face and the operation was performed swiftly while it was suddenly very quiet. The boy had made not a sound and then there was a wild clapping and shouting by his friends as a recognition of his bravery. His wound seen to, he was covered with a blanket and people came congratulating and throwing more paper money at him. The music had started again and the dancing resumed, the village celebrating Avzija's entry into the world of Muslim men.