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article imageKosovo Dervishes pierce their mouths in celebration of spring

By AFP     Mar 22, 2018 in Lifestyle

Like every spring, the Dervishes in Kosovo on Thursday celebrated the beginning of the season by dancing and pushing skewers into their mouths in a quest for heavenly salvation.

Considered as a mystic sect by their fellow Muslims, some 60 Dervishes gathered in the southern city of Prizren for a centuries-old celebration of the spring equinox festival of "Sultan Nevruz".

The Dervishes chant and bob their heads for hours before they take out their skewers for the piercin...
The Dervishes chant and bob their heads for hours before they take out their skewers for the piercing ritual
Armend NIMANI, AFP

Dressed in black and white waistcoats and flat hats, the Dervishes start the ceremony by chanting and bobbing their heads, slowly upping the tempo of the prayer from a deep murmur into a full-throated howl, praying for their past sins to be pardoned.

The crescendo mounts for two hours until the Dervishes, including a few children, are swaying in a state of mystical ecstasy, when the skewers appear.

Women watch the ceremony of the Dervishes from a wooden balcony
Women watch the ceremony of the Dervishes from a wooden balcony
Armend NIMANI, AFP

Shejh Adrihusein Shehu, a leader of the mystical order, coats 15-centimetre long needles with his saliva, piercing one side of the mouths of three junior Dervishes, signalling others to begin piercing themselves.

Driven by the rhythm of kettledrums and tambourines, the entranced worshippers sway in a semi-conscious state, repeating their calls to "Allah" over and over.

Only a fraction of Kosovo's 1.8 million inhabitants are Dervishes
Only a fraction of Kosovo's 1.8 million inhabitants are Dervishes
Armend NIMANI, AFP

While 95 percent of Kosovo's 1.8 million inhabitants are Muslim, only a tiny fraction -- a few thousands -- are Dervishes.

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