Monday, November 24, 2008

I'd Stick With The Jewish Eight-Day Old Ceremony

Circumcision-By-Bulk in the Balkans

In the southern Balkans, a small Muslim ethnic group maintains its collective identity by means of mass circumcision. Once every five years, villagers gather to ordain their boys. And to party for four straight days.

...a small Muslim ethnic group scattered across present-day Serbia, Kosovo, Macedonia and Albania...wanted enough freedom to maintain their cultural traditions. For those living in the mountain villages of Donje and Gornje Ljubinje in southern Kosovo that meant, above all, the quinntenial celebration of Sunet, the festival of mass circumcision...the mass circumcision is a tradition that goes back centuries and locals feel it helps differentiate them from the myriad neighboring ethnic groups.

"This is why we are not the same as the others, even when it does not help us," Arif Kurtishi, a member of the Gorani diaspora who returned to Donje Ljubinje last year from Sweden for the festival, told the AFP.

You can say that again.

At last year's Sunet, 130 boys from 10 months to five years -- some brought from abroad -- were circumcised by 70 year old Zylfikar Shishko, a barber from the nearby town of Prizren who has been performing the role for the last 45 years...

...The procedure itself hasn't changed for centuries. To the sound of Muslim prayers, Shishko brandishes his instruments -- a scalpel, iodine and medical powder -- and applies them to each child. For the sake of tradition, the boys don't receive anesthetic -- Shishko is accompanied by two assistants who hold the boy down -- but they are compensated with presents and attention from the villagers.

The to-be-circumcised are also the guests of honor at the three full days of festivities that precede and follow the incisions. These include a parade through the neighboring villages, oil wrestling, tug-of-war, stone throwing and live music from traditional five-man brass bands. When the festival comes to a close, the villagers return to their day-to-day hardships while the emigrants make their way to their new homes...

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