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The Festival of Nevrus

One of the advantages of living in a country of many religions is the preponderance of public holidays. This week we had the Bektashis to thank for a holiday on March 22 - the festival of Nevrus.

I have to confess that I knew nothing about the Bektashi community before I came here and my knowledge remains sketchy. Tracing their origins to the 13th century Islamic teacher Haji Bektash Veliu the Bektashi order is part of the Sufi tradition. Sufism is generally described as a more mystical Islamic tradition.

The Bektashis are usually described as practising a more liberal (or more heterodox - depending on your point of view) kind of Islam. Their traditions were influenced by local folk religions and Christianity. Centred in what is now Turkey, they were expelled from that country by Kemal Ataturk in 1925 and established their world headquarters in Tirana.

I have read some claims that the influence of Bektashi Islam is one of the reasons for the relative religious harmony in Albania. Their less dogmatic approach to religion and their tolerance of other religious traditions made it possible for Christians to convert to this form of Islam and for Christians and Muslims to live together.

How many Albanian Muslims are Bektashi is hard to determine. I have seen estimates that suggest that a quarter of the Muslim population is, to some degree, connected to the Bektashi tradition. If so, like most Muslims in Albania, this would be a cultural more than a religious affiliation.

Abdyl Frasheri, one of three Frasheri brothers who campaigned for greater Albanian autonomy within the Ottoman Empire at the end of the 19th century drew on the Bektashi tradition - and its network of people - to help advance the cause of greater cultural and political independence for Albania.

Most of the information I have found has come from the Wikipedia site and its links. If anyone out there knows of any other good sources of information let me know.


Aldamir said…
Surely Nevrus is another name for the traditional (pre-Islamic) new year festival?

See this Wikipedia entry:
olli said…
As far as I understand, Nevrus is indeed pre-islamic in origin, but in Persia, where it originated, it was retained following the rise of Islam and became an Islamic holiday.

Bektashism, while deriving from Sunni Islam, adopted may of the beliefs of Shia Islam, and the founder of the movement Haji Bektash Veliu, was himself Persian. Hence it is observed here as a Muslim festival - more specifically, a Bektashi Muslim festival.
Anonymous said…
Ahh, the "Festival of Nevrus", aka Nestivus, our own made up festivus.

Truth be told, it's the best holiday. Its so because there's absolutely no tradition, and because its a holiday you have to make up something. For example a good tradition would be to go to your grandmom and make her cook for you hallvas, and then stuff your belly until it's about to explode. Or you can just go fishing for Nestivus, and that would be fine too, or go to a mountain at night and roast a lamb all the while drinking raki like a madman, or you can simply walk around aimlessly at the pazar, haggle with the sellers and then just walk away saying it was a Nestivus joke. You can go in Elbasan, and pretend it's still the "Summer Day" and ask people if they have any ballokume they would like to exchange for your red-painted eggs.
And when the nestivities die down, and the night falls, you can always hope for Nesta Claws to come around and give you gifts ... oh wait wasn't that Christmass? Halloween? Easter? April's fool? Day of the dead? Ah, who cares, it's Nestivus and like everything else in bektashism, it's official any way you'd like it to be.
Anonymous said…
i'm a bektashi myself and guess what i don't know anything about it, so there you have it.
Muhammed said…
The Bektashi Pages
by Naim Frasheri


$10.95 Print
Add to cart

The Bektashi Sufi Order has long been recognized for its tolerant and broadminded interpretation of Islam. In his essay The Bektashi Pages, Naim Frashëri (1846-1900), a man often hailed as the father of modern Albanian literature, discusses the moral and ethical values of the faith of his youth. One of the more noteworthy features of the text is that it was written using a language and vocabulary that Westerners would find graspable. This current edition includes a brief survey of the doctrines of the Bektashi Order, an account of its place in Albanian history as well as an introduction to the text and its author. This book is an excellent introduction for anyone wishing to study the ethical worldview of one of Islam's most celebrated Sufi orders. (b&w illustrations)

Product Details:
Printed: 59 pages, 6.00" x 9.00", perfect binding, black and white interior ink
ISBN: 1-5631-6950-9
Publisher: Babagan Books
Copyright: © 2006 Babagan Books Standard Copyright License
Language: English
Country: United States
Edition: First
Ruzgar said…
I am a Turkish alevi-bektashi. Bektashism and Alevism are closely related in terms of both philosophy and culture.

I never knew that there excisted bektashish in an other country except from Turkey! It's a very pleasant suprise.

Hajji Bektas Veli is one of my heroes he lived in the 13e century in Anatolia and he was a Shiit because he loved Ali.
just like Yunus Emre a poet who knew Hajji Bektas Veli and Pir Sultan Abdal also a poet.

I love Hajji Bektas Veli for his love towards humankind and his wisdom.
Some qoute's of Hajji Bektas Veli:

•Seek and find. Do not hurt even if you are hurt yourself.

•The end of the road that does not pass through knowledge is darkness. How glad for those who shed light into the darkness of thought.

• Prophets and saints are God's gift to humanity.

•The first step of a talent is modesty. A person's perfection lies in the beauty of what he says.
Look op in here to find more information.

And one beautiful poem of Yunus Emre the sufi poet.:

To be real on this path you must be humble--
If you look down at others you'll get pushed down the stairs.

If your heart goes around on high, you fly far from this path.
There's no use hiding it--
What's inside always leaks outside.

Even the one with the long white beard, the one who looks so wise--
If he breaks a single heart, why bother going to Mecca?
If he has no compassion, what's the point?

If there is any meaning in the holy books, it is this:
Whatever is good for you, grant it to others too--

His poems are stil alive among the people in Antolia, they use the saz (turkish gitiur) and sing his poems. Members of my family do that too.

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