Bektashi gathering and pilgrimage to the sacred mountain of Baba Tomori, Albania.
Thousands of sheep are sacrificed during the gathering. You can buy them
from the sheperds on the mountainside, then bring them to butcher.
Afterwards there’s a short ceremony in order to glorify the blood of the lamb. You are offered to eat the limb or the heart fresh when they’re still warm.
After this you take the corps to one of the many grills around the area, they will grill it for you for an amount of money. Then you have two choices: Either take the sheep and eat it yourself by sharing it with your friends and family, or you offer it to the dervishes.
They will gladly take it as a gift. This sharing economy is a huge part of the Bektashi community and their religion.
The entrance to the walled up area of the religious and administrative centre of the Tekke is marked by a gate and two flags, one representing the national flag of Albania (left) and the other one as a symbol of Baktashi religion, green being the representive color of Islam.
People camp around the whole mountain side, usually together with their families and friends. Everyone is very friendly and welcoming. They make tours to the top of the mountain where the grave site is cherished.
Sheperds are also among those inhabiting the mountain side for the time of the festival. They make a good part of their yearly income by selling sheep to the pilgrims.
Bektashi religion was banned from Turkey where it evolved from, and later the same happened in Albania where it was the biggest religious minority.
Albanian Bektashi are therefor dispersed around the planet and come from all over the world. They drink, eat and dance in the end of the day.
I was always invited to join and share their stories, food and most of all, Rakia, with them.