Cyclical Time, Nature Spirits, and Translation Activities: The Transreligious Role of the Meeting of Khiḍr and Ilyās in the Balkans

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Abstract

This chapter follows the traces of Khiḍr and Ilyās (Arab. Khiḍr-Ilyās; Turk. Hidrellez) and their equation with various interchangeable figures in the Balkan regions, syntheses that were formed and developed in the context of cultural and religious interactions. Associated with spheres essential for human existence and the seasonal cycle of life, the “Green Men” Khiḍr and Ilyās evoke fertility and the annual renewal of vegetation, phenomena that depend heavily on water. Nature spirits of spring-summer that have counterparts in autumn-winter have their origins in ancient vegetation and water deities that cyclically disappear and reappear. The calendar was necessarily tied to these natural cycles of return. With the Ottoman expansion into the Balkans, Julian, Gregorian, and also Byzantine cultic calendar dates were converted into Ottoman chronologies. This process led to “new” mythical coordinates in space and time, which were then applied to the religious geography of the Ottoman-period Balkans. The result was a convergence of sacred geographies, reflected in various intercommunal religious interactions. Popular versions of Islam and Orthodoxy cultivated shared saints, whose respective saints’ days not only represented key symbolic turning points in the Ottoman world but also helped to facilitate a shared intercommunal existence.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInter-religious Practices and Saint Veneration in the Muslim World
Subtitle of host publicationKhidr/Khizr from the Middle East to South Asia
EditorsMichel Boivin, Manoël Pénicaud
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherRoutledge
Pages163-191
Number of pages29
ISBN (Electronic)9781003386285
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 13 Oct 2023

Austrian Fields of Science 2012

  • 603905 Islam
  • 605002 Cultural history
  • 603909 Religious studies

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