Ajvatovica pilgrimage

Ajvatovica is the largest Islamic traditional, religious and cultural event in Europe. It is located near Prusac, Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was named after Ajvaz Dede (Grandfather Ajvaz), a pious Muslim working to enlighten the population and achieve progress in the area.

Ajvaz-Dedo, came into today’s Prusac from the East after the Turkish conquest of Bosnia. He was a learned and highly ambitious man who worked tirelessly on improving his new homeland and the education of the people.

The tradition of Ajvaz-dedo

Tradition says that Ajvaz-Dedo, under the mountain Šuljaga, 6 km away from Prusac in the woods, found a powerful spring. The spring had been shut off by a rock 74 meters long and 30 meters wide, which obstructed the construction of a running water system.

Ajvaz Dede spent 40 days beseeching Allah to split the rock. On the fortieth morning, following his prayers, Ajvaz Dede dreamt that two white rams collided and split the rock. When he awoke, he saw the rock split in half and the cleft in the gorge directed towards the qibla (the Kaaba in Mecca). Wooden pipes were placed along the newly formed canyon to take water into Prusac. Seeing it as a sign of God’s miracle and blessing, people began going on pilgrimages to the place where the rock had split.

It is not known how the plumbing was in good condition after the Ajvaz-dedo’s death, but it is known that the first plumbing fixtures made Shaykh Hasan Kafi Pruščak. Then it was rebuilt by Bosnian governor Miralem Pasha in early 1785th. In Prusac, modern plumbing was built in 1931.

The people named this spring “Ajvatovica” after Ajvaz-dedo, and rock was named “Ajvaz-dedo’s rock” and in thanks for sign of God’s blessings, people began to visit the place where it happened. It is interesting that the “campaign Ajvatovica” performs seventh day after Jurjev and not linked to any of Hijri calendar or one of two Eids.

In 1947, (during the early years of communist Yugoslavia) thirteen people were convicted by the district court in Travnik for “participating in the unauthorized procession on the occasion of the religious holiday Ajvatovica, opposing state officials and violating the ban on flying religious flags“.The thirteen individuals were also accused of assaulting two policemen who tried to break up the procession and threatening them with knives while on horseback. Following this incident, maintenance of the religious site was forbidden by the communist Yugoslav government until the tradition was renewed in June 1990.

Days of Ajvatovica

Traditional ceremonial part Ajvatovica begins wtih cavalry and infantry parade. Flags, horses, Takbir and Islamic songs are an integral part of the Ajvatovica’s spirit. The procession is approaching Shahid’s cemetery from the time of Sultan Fatih and prays with Fatiha. On Čardak-han procession emerges during morning prayer Sabah. After Sabah, they pray with the Ja’sin for Prusačka martyrs and all the martyrs of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

After hot tea or coffee the Bajraks are called out and the Ajvatovica parade is formed. At the forefront is, as always, the Bajrak Ajvaz-dedo, followed by other Bajraks, pedestrians and horsemen. Islamic songs and the Takbir are recited all the way to the Ajvaz-dedo rock, at the end which the procession stops. Here the Al-Fatih and dua are recited. Upon completion of this part of the road the procession emerges on the Ajvatovica meadow on top of which a stage with a special program is prepared, conducted by choirs of Islamic spiritual songs. This special opportunity is used for an address by prominent religious figures. The noon is prayer led by the Grand Mufti after which this traditional part of Ajvatovica is completed.