- Middle East
Sultani Nevruz is a religious ceremony which is observed each year in the days around the spring equinox among Sufi communities in the Balkans. Literally meaning “New Day” in Persian, it has a special significance for the members of Rufai and Saadi Sufi brotherhoods who consider the day to be both the birthday of Ali, the cousin and son-in-law of Muhammad, and the day when he became the caliph. Dhikr, a central devotional act inherent to Sufism is performed as an integral part of Sultani Nevruz celebrations. This ritual often includes extreme acts in which dervishes pierce their cheeks and throats with needles and swords reaching a state of trance. It is a highly theatrical performance, a demonstration of the true faith, which takes place in the presence of a huge and excited audience. Each year on March 22nd, the ceremony takes place is a tekke of Rufai and Saadi orders in Prizren’s Terzi Mahala neighborhood whose devotees are coming from the local Roma population and other ethnic minorities.