Photoreportage by Michele Pero, professional photographer and photojournalist. Photojournalism, advertisement photography, commercial photography, wedding photojournalism, Florence, Italy. Photographs and features from Kosovo, Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, Umbria earthquake, fakir dervishes, the nomadic of the wind and more. Michele Pero is teacher of photography at TheDarkroom, photography courses and multimedia school of Florence.

The feast of the Bektashi

On the highest peak of Mount Tomor, central Albania, graved in a small tekke, Abaz Alì, son-in-law of Mohammed, rests in peace. Every year, at the end of August, thousands of faithful pilgrims of the Bektashi sect meet here for their biggest and most important feast of the year.
Arriving by off road cars, they camp at Kulmak pass, right under Tomor’s peak, nearby the five graves of the founder dervishes of the Albanian Bektashism. Each family buy a lamb from one of the many shepherds arrived with their flocks. The lamb sacrifice is a peculiar ritual of this feast. Thousands of lambs are slit by slaughter experts in a non-stop night-and-day loop in a slaughter location set up right nearby the camp. Faithfuls mark their heads with the fresh blood of the lamb.
Bektashis, Shiite (Sufi) sect of the Islam, is a small enclave that resisted the Communism. The few rules of the sect are perfect for the Albanian which is not very tolerant to rules and impositions. Bektashi can drink alcohol, smoke, and have no restrictions like the integralist of the Islam. They have to behave toward each other according to Haci Bekta? Veli’s “golden word”, the founder of the sect. Rules that appear very similar to Christianity’s ten commandments, Buddhism, and Hinduism. Hence a third part of their roasted lambs is given to charity.
At the end of the one-week non-stop feast the lead dervish, called Dede Baba, the “father of all grandfathers” Haxhi Reshat Bardhi gives speeches to the crowd. Vice leader of the sect, dervish Baba Edmund, former general of the Albanian Army, now spiritual guide of Bektashism, meets faithful pilgrims, answers their spiritual questions, prays for them. Faithful followers kindly call him Babamundi. He will become one day the new Dede Baba.

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