Bosnians flock to celebrate local legendary miracle

Bosnians flock to celebrate local legendary miracle

Muslim pilgrims mark prayer helping to end a drought over 5 centuries ago

BELGRADE, Serbia (AA) - Thousands of Muslims gathered in Bosnia Sunday to celebrate a legendary local miracle from a half-millennium ago.

They made the pilgrimage to Prusac, a small, uncommercialized village in the center of Bosnia for what is billed as the largest Islamic traditional, religious, and cultural event in Europe.

The Ajvatovica event, named after Sufi dervish Ajvaz Dede (Grandfather Ajvaz), marks the 506th anniversary of the rock-dividing story.

The event featured a display of dozens of flag-festooned horses from all over Bosnia, prayers amid the divided rock, food, and Islamic songs.

Ajvaz is said to have arrived in Bosnia with the conquering Ottoman armies in 1463.

According to the story, Ajvaz Dede prayed for water in the middle of a long drought.

He then found a spring of water on a mountain near the village, but the spring had been blocked by a massive rock, spanning nearly 100 meters long and 30 meters wide.

But Ajvaz Dede kept praying and on the 40th morning after his prayers began, Ajvaz dreamed that two white rams had collided and split the rock.

When he woke from his dream, he saw that the rock had miraculously split in two, releasing the spring.

The event was considered a sign of God's blessing.

Since then, every year people go on pilgrimages to the place where the rock split.

During the communist era, the Yugoslav government banned the gathering, until the beginning of the 1990s.

Speaking at the event, Turkey's Ambassador to Sarajevo Cihad Erginay said many Turks and representatives of Turkish institutions in Sarajevo attended the celebrations.

"I think there are more people here this year than usually and in previous years,” he added. “The Turkish Scouting and Guiding Federation, Yunus Emre Institute, and many other organizations from Turkey as well as volunteer citizens participated this year. They have contributed to this delightful atmosphere and experienced this event."

Local observers’ estimates of this year’s attendance varied widely, from 5,000 to as many as 10,000.

The event ended after noon prayers.

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