Mavro Aloni - Greece's Batak

Novinite Insider » DESTINATIONS | Author: Maria Guineva |May 15, 2011, Sunday // 17:00| Views: 4906 | Comments: 4
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Mavro Aloni - Greece's Batak: Mavro Aloni - Greece's Batak The monument at Mavro Aloni in memory of 400 local residents, slaughtered by Ottoman forces in 1821. Photo by the author

For most Bulgarians northern Greece equals the beautiful beaches of Chalkidiki and the mystery of Mount Athos' monasteries, but very few know about Mavro Aloni (Black Harvest) – a place still bearing the scars of the country's fight for independence from the Ottoman Empire.

Mavro Aloni is Greece's Batak.

In April 1876, Bulgarian freedom fighters rebelled against the authorities of the Ottoman Turkish Empire seeking to liberate their nation and create an independent nation state.

The so called April Uprising was crushed with great violence by Ottoman forces, when an estimated 30 000 Bulgarians, mostly civilians including women, children, and elderly, were slaughtered. Coverage in the European press led to an international outrage and a humanitarian intervention in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78.

The massacre in the southern town of Batak, described by journalist MacGahan in a shocking account, has remained in history as a symbol of the atrocities of the Ottoman forces.

However, 55 years ago, almost to the date, in 1821, the Orthodox Metropolitan Germanos of Patras proclaimed the Greek national uprising. Simultaneous risings were planned across Greece, including in Macedonia, Crete and Cyprus. With the initial advantage of surprise, the rebels succeeded in liberating Peloponnese and some other areas. The Ottomans soon recovered, and retaliated with great savagery, provoking sympathy for the Greeks in western Europe, particularly fueled by the tragic death of the poet and leading philhellene Lord Byron at Missolonghi in 1824.

Western powers intervened and in May 11, 1832 Greece was finally recognized as a sovereign state.

Today, the custom of "Mavro Aloni" keeps the memory of the fight and the massacres alive.

The commemoration is about to begin. Photo by the author

The place is perched on a beautiful hill with a gorgeous view of the sea. In any other day, only the monument reminds of the drama that took place there in 1821. But not on the day after Easter Monday, when residents of Ierissos come together to pay homage to the victims.

View from the hill. Photo by the author

"Mavro Aloni" is the place where 400 locals were massacred by Ottoman forces on the order of Bey Sindik Giousouf. People from Ierissos tell the story of a cunning promise for general pardon which was made to those who would accept to surrender. 400 believed. Armed Ottomans forced them to dance in a large circle and after each full turn one dancer was slayed with swords.

The dance. Photo by the author.

In their honor, every year on Tuesday after Easter, rain or shine, hundreds of local people and visitors hold a mass at Mavro Aloni. They also do a reenactment of the dance called barrier (kangeleftos), a slow, unrehearsed dance (argosyrto) imitating the hesitant steps of those sentenced to death, and sing a commemorative chant.

The dance - second person from the left is the Deputy Regional Governor, Giannis Giorgos. Photo by the author

When the song nears its end, the first two from the circle join their hands and stretch their arms to replicate the stretched Turkish swords. All other participants pass under this arch still dancing, chanting, with women and men taking turns, while the swords fall on their heads.

End of the dance. Photo by the author

The event ends with the sharing of boiled eggs, colored for Easter as is the Greek Orthodox tradition, of sweet Easter bread, other pastries, coffee and beverages.

Food sharing. Photo by the author

One of the most meaningful and beautiful songs of famous Greek performer, Nana Mouskouri, is dedicated to the massacre – titled Mavro Aloni and written by Nikos Gkatsos.

The Mayor of Aristotle, Christos Pahtas, the Deputy Regional Governor, Giannis Giorgos, and many other officials were present at the 2011 ceremony, held on April 26.

Pahtas spoke to our Bulgarian group, and we soon realized he knew plenty about Bulgaria – in his political career he had met on numerous occasions former Communist ruler, Todor Zhivkov, and many Bulgarian politicians and country leaders after the fall of Communism. Pahtes had also been the main rapporteur on Bulgaria at the Council of Europe in 1992, when our country joined it.

"This commemoration is the recreation of real events. We don't seek revenge, but also don't want to forget," Pahtas says.

Mayor, Christos Pahtas. Photo by the author

"Remember Greeks, the freedom of classical Greece, the Battles of Marathon and Thermopylae, let us fight for those who died for our freedom. Let us fight for the shadows of Epaminondas and Thrasyboulos, .. of Harmodius and Aristogeiton... for Miltiades, Themistocles, Leonidas who killed a large number of the Barbarian Persians before they died." Alexandros Ypsilantis, leader of the Filiki Eteria, a secret organization that coordinated the beginning of the Greek War of Independence against the Ottoman Empire.

The commemoration ends with the waving of the Greek national colors. Photo by the author

Next read about Ammouliani Island, the Monastery of Zigou and Ancient Stageira.

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Tags: Batak, April, Uprising, independece, slayed, Empire, Ottoman, greece, Chalkidiki, Mavro Aloni All Are Welcome! Join Now!

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» To the forumComments (4)
GrueFsk - 7 Sep 2015 // 20:07:43

Syria houses the only Russia military base in the Mediterranean Sea are -- the result... Syria got destroyed and is getting destroyed
Bg, Greece and Cyprus and now Hungary (although much less than the former 3) were considered (still are?) Russia "Trojan horses" inside the EU: the result: Turkey published "by mistake" maps of "future" and desired Greater Turkey with Bg, Greek (and also Armenian and Georgian) territories depicted as Turkish. Until Erdogan managed to sour the relations with the Illuminati everything went well, they even held one of their meetings in Turkey in 2007.

For instance MEP from the Muslim, anti-constitutional "Bg" party MRF have been named best "Bg" MEP by the Nazis and their stooges (of different ethnicities and nationalities): Vladko Panayotov, if I'm not mistaken Filiz Hyusmenova too. The latter big time promote with ALDE European political party Denial of Batak massacre perpetrated by Turks on Bulgarians: done by the Nazi Ulf Brunnbauer and a janissary of the Germans and Turks, ethnic Bulgarian Martina Baleva. That had been going on before moronic Erdogan antagonized (pardon my... Greek!) the West. NWO instructions to put down Bulgaria, to glorify Turkey and the Turks and to help Turkey get bigger, territorywise, on the expense of Bulgaria. Americans on FYROM, in 1944 and in 2015: U.S. Secretary of State Edward Stettinius to U.S. Missions The Belgium foreign minister, just finished visiting FYROM recently, said he has some proposals to the FYROM-Greece name dispute, adding that there is a province called Holland within Belgium itself and that the Dutch have no problem with that. Even if that were true, it still has no relevance to FYROM-Greece relations and their name dispute. Even the Dutch are ok with Belgium's stealing their historical heritage, why should Greeks be just as stupid when it comes to their historical heritage being stolen by FYROM and FYROM's territorial claims on Greek territory. But the comparative "argument" of the Belgium guy is actually no argument: the Netherlands are not called Holland in their own language, their are called Nederland (Holland is only one of Netherlands'/Nederland's historical provinces), just like in English the official and recommended name for the Dutch country is The Netherlands, not Holland. In Dutch however the single name for their country is Nederland. It's true there are 2 Holland provinces, 1 in Belgium and the other one in the Netherlands but neither Belgium (Belgie in Dutch, Belgique in Frence), nor the Netherlands (Nederland in Dutch, Pays Bas -- Low Countries -- in French) are called Holland. It is entirely different from FYROM-Greece case. The Belgian guy is obviously aware of all these things, yet he still chose to play dumb, in order to fulfill his orders from his Illuminati masters.

GrueFski - 12 Apr 2015 // 00:40:11

...on the expense of Bulgaria and Greece

Dino the Athenian - 18 May 2011 // 18:31:59

Welcome to Greece Maria! Glad to have you here.