Ramadan in Kosova
by: Driton Morina
Ramadan and Eid traditions vary across the different regions of Kosova. Although part of communist former Yugoslavia for half a century, Kosovans have remained connected to their religious practices, especially fasting. Until recently, a person who did not fast felt embarrassed to admit it to his friends and colleagues.
Recent Ramadans in Kosova have been marked by major cultural and iftar events, organised by town mayors or political party leaders. Prizren, in western Kosova, offers some unique Ramadan experiences. Not a single day or night goes by without some kind of cultural or religious activity. Several hours before iftar, the streets are alive. Some people are going home after long hours at work, others for iftar with relatives, while some are returning from the shops with vegetables to prepare their iftar salads. From small ovens people take out pans filled with pitalka me ve (bread cooked with eggs), and the sweet aroma of pitalka and toplia cakes fills the streets.
The Turkish KFOR, in collaboration with the Muslim community and other organisations, take care of poor fasting people by offering free iftars. Every night about 150 people are invited to break their fast in an open air setting in the city centre. Islamic Relief Kosova also takes care of orphans and poor people by distributing Ramadan packages.
A loud boom from an old military cannon announces iftar, and the Maghrib adhan empties the city streets in Ramadan. For those who fast and those who don't, respect for the iftar sofra (table) is still alive. If you plan to spend any night of Ramadan in Prizren, try to not miss the taraweeh prayer in the courtyard of Emin Pasha Mosque. Experiencing the outdoor prayer with the beautiful voice of the Imam, followed by the coolness of the evening will leave you with an unforgettable memory of Prizren in Ramadan.
After prayers, have a coffee next to the Mosque courtyard to take in the ancient walls and pavement of the old Hammam (Ottoman public bath). The minarets, oriental music, waiters in traditional dress, tea and Turkish coffee, cakes such as Boza, Baklava, Sytla? and many more will make you feel like you've gone back in time.
Many private TV channels operating in the country, like Besa and Balkan, run special programs in honour of Ramadan. The elderly still retain a nostalgia about how Ramadan was celebrated in the past, however, recent events are strong indicators that our country is reclaiming its originality, culture and traditions.
Me fat Bajrami! (Happy Eid or Eid Mubarak) is the common greeting of Kosovan people as they hug one another on Eid day. Bajram prayers are usually televised, and people of all ethnicities, especially children, share the happiness across the country. And remember, you won't find a single shop open on Bajram day anywhere in the country.
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