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The Gorani

Jakub Górnicki, Agnieszka Wanat
Begin

Every year, the first days of May are an important time for the residents of several villages in Kosovo.

Traditional celebrations and meetings take place there both during the day and at night.

The important part of the celebrations is a traditional dance called ‘Oro’, also known in other Balkan countries. It is not complicated – it is danced together, and everyone moves around the circumference of the circle to the rhythm of the music.

People meet close to the main roads.
The buzz of talks and the sounds of instruments mix with the car horns.

The elders are sitting in cafes and watching young people having fun. Many of them have returned there mainly for the celebrations.

Krusevo is an example of such a place. People have fun on the streets. There is a bonfire down the alley.

The flame must last until morning.

Flickering out

Children and teenagers look after the fire. Erolin, Dzafer and Sadrik are among them.

People have fun. When the flame is dying out, wood is thrown into it. When it is getting boring – people are throwing tires into the fire.

Then the fire bursts out and the black smoke becomes gigantic. The kids are delighted.

– Why are you sitting here?
– That’s what we always do. – says Elvin.
– Few people remember that custom.

“Slavic Muslims” – that’s how Gorani people are sometimes described.

Although they are Muslims, a part of their customs and culture is derived from pagan tradition.

It is an ethnic minority that also has its dialect – Goran.

In the triangle

Gorani live in villages in the territory of today’s Kosovo, Albania and Macedonia. Most people live in the Šar Mountains in Kosovo – just over 10,000. Before World War II, there were over 50,000 of them.

They live in 18 villages in Kosovo, 10 in Albania and 4 in Macedonia. There are two roads from the town of Dragac in Kosovo – one to Brod, the other to Restelice. They are the two largest towns in the region.

However, some parts of the villages are abandoned. Hardly anyone thinks about spending life here. People emigrate. Elders guard the empty houses.

– We are coming less and less often, but we want to show children where we come from – says Sead. – We have a house here, but we live in Serbia nowadays.

In between

Meanwhile, another meeting is taking place in the village of Lubivshtë. There are so many people that they are blocking the main road. Those who arrived, parked their cars on the side of the road and are going to dance.

Some women are walking in the middle of the road. They are crossing 100 metres, and then they are coming back. And they are doing so for an hour.

In the beginning, the men are standing around and just looking at the women.

If they “choose” their partner, they go to the side and talk. It used to be a traditional way in which marriages were arranged. Today, it’s just a habit and a possibility to make friends.

In these days many women, both older and younger, decide to wear traditional costumes.

The fragments

Traditional Gorani clothes are not just a memory that can be found in the museum, but an essential part of identity.

Men usually do not wear these clothes everyday. They do it only during important ceremonies. However, in large cities, like Brod and Restelice, it happens more often.

Older women wear traditional clothes very often. Girls and young women also wear them, but occasionally.

Traditionally, the costumes were similar to some of the Albanian or Macedonian ones. However, there are noticeable differences between them.

In the Gora area, there are three different ways of adorning clothes- from the more modest to the more “shiny” one.

There are not many manufacturers. Some of them have their workshops and shops. Once a week they sell their products on the market in Dragac.

People also sew at homes using special machines. The price of men’s traditional uniform is about 200-250 euros, women’s costume costs more than 300 euros.

Ladies’ outfit can sometimes communicate where a woman comes from or whether she is married. If so, the decorations will be red and yellow. If not – white.

Forever

Traditionally, Gorani’s wedding lasts three days.

The groom’s family

and the bride’s family play different roles.

On the first day, the family of the future husband brings gifts to the bride’s house and takes part in a traditional dinner.

The next day, the bride wears a traditional outfit. It is the most splendid part of the celebration. The groom rides on a white horse. The bride follows him and sometimes covers herself with a white umbrella.

Then the bride’s family stays at home and does not take part in the celebration anymore.

The whole procession follows the streets, accompanied by music. When they reach the new home, the bride sits in a corner, and the women come to see her.

In smaller villages, everyone is invited to the festivities. The residents also come around.

On the third day, the bride gets presents from her mother-in-law, and the husband’s family washes her face.

Due to the high costs and complexity of the ceremony, it is increasingly difficult to see a traditional wedding in full.

Together

The disappearance of Gorani, globalisation, but also an attempt to cultivate tradition, is best illustrated by so-called “vlashka”.

It also takes place at the beginning of May. On the clearing located between Dragac and Krushevo, several hundred people play, dance and sing.

You can eat candyfloss and lift weights. You can also listen to traditional music.

One does not feel that the Gorani have been involved in various political conflicts for years, though not because of their fault or initiative.

The Serbs want to upset the Albanians, so they support Gorani. The Kosovo Albanians, in turn, want to retaliate and limit the education in the Gorani language.

– Nobody wants us, but everyone needs us. I’m talking about politics – says Nuhirja, a local activist.

Politics, however, comes in the second place these days. Men are playing louder and louder, and the crowd is dancing more and more intense. After a whole day, people continue to have fun in their homes.

Eventually, part of the village empties out and waits for the next year.

The question is, how long will it last?

Authors: Jakub Górnicki, Agnieszka Wanat

Design: Arkadiusz Sołdon

Coding: Piotr Kliks

 

 

 

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