By Muhamet Brajshori
Muslims around the world began fasting on August 1st. In Kosovo, the tradition of Ramadan fasting follows much the same path as in other nations.
People around Kosovo attempt to offer sadaq, or charity to the poor through organisations, mosques or individually. It is not uncommon to see tents set up as food donation centres during Iftar (evening meal), while families help relatives and neighbours facing hard times.
Nafije Hyseni, 55, is from the village of Dumnica in Podujevo. She told SETimes that she has been fasting for Ramadan every year since she was 13.
“Religion previously was an important part of the family harmony and of the whole society. I had an older sister [who] began fasting when she was 13. I was 11, and always hid myself to eat, because I felt sorry that I could eat and she could not. But then I began fasting at 13, and understood the meaning of fasting during Ramadan.”
Hyseni said her father was respected in the village and always invited guests for Iftar.
“The food is an important part during Ramadan … the whole day my mother was preparing the food, and I was always happy to help her with that. My mother [made] Kos ne Tave (Yoghurt in Pot), Pite me djath (Cheese Pie) and Ravani (pancake with syrup).”
Syzana Bajraktari, 45, lives in Pristina. She originally comes from Prizren, a member of a Turkish-Albanian family that observed Ramadan traditions.
“My uncle was an imam and my father a hajji. We were always happy when Ramadan came because we were able to reflect on ourselves, our neighbours, our family and we shared food with poor people, which in old times were in a higher number.”
Bajraktari said that her mother always prepared food for the poor during Ramadan, and she, herself, follows that tradition.
“When my mother prepared food for us, she always told me that during Ramadan, we must share food and happiness with the poor people in other months. Today I cannot prepare food like my mother did, but I give money every month to a poor family so they are worry-free this month.”
Bajraktari says that because of her Turkish roots, Turkish food and traditional Albanian food are always prepared during Ramadan.
“I prepare what my children like mostly and I try to make them happy. When we begin eating for Iftar … it is traditional to start with something sweet. Then we serve sometimes Cemen or Mantija; later the main dish is Kisirli Pazi Sarma or stuffed tomatoes or meat, and for dessert baklava, ravanija or lemon blancmange.”
Bajraktari and Hyseni also talked to SETimes about the religious part of Ramadan.
“I pray always during Ramadan and go in the mosque every night after Iftar to pray during Taravi. I pray for people to find their peace and happiness. It’s a difficult time; many are unemployed and poor,” says Hyseni.
Bajraktari goes for Taravi to pray, and later invites her neighbours to her home, or goes to theirs for tea.
“Ramadan fasting provides believers with the values … of love, respect, charity, sacrifice and sincerity, because it makes people more loving, more noble, more humane, more relative and more grateful to the Creator of the Universe,” the head of Islamic Community in Kosovo, Naim Ternava, said at the beginning of the month.