• September 7, 2014
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In a near-Vilnius village Sorok Tatarythere has been established the Tartar Community House

On Saturday, September 6, the residents of the village Sorok Tatary held their national holiday – “Sabantuj”, during which there took place the official opening of the Community House of Tatars. By the blessing of the words of the Koran the dedication of the building was made by the Mufti of Lithuania muftiat – Romas Jakubauskas and the imam of the local mosque Ramazan Krynickij.

The Community House of the Tatars in the village Sorok Tatary was created as a part of the programme aimed at improving the quality of life of the village, which is led by the Local Action Group of the Vilnius Region. Plans for the creation of the resort, dedicated to the cultural projects of the village, have existed for a long time. First of all, they were sought by a large community of Tatars, whose president is Fatima Bujnowska.

“I am very pleased that in the Vilnius region there are so many people of different nationalities and worship, people who can live together beautifully, and work towards their village. By propagating their traditions that are cultivated for generations they enrich each other, their families, neighbours, villages and the entire region. I thank you all for this spiritual wealth of diversity, with respect to one another, a beautiful example of harmony and unity in our region,” said Maria Rekść, the mayor of Vilnius region, during the opening ceremony.

Violeta Jankauskienė, the president of the Local Action Group of the Vilnius Region, leading this and similar projects of rural communities, also stressed the merits of the local population. “Thank you that you are harmonious national community that can look after themselves,” said Jankauskienė, stressing the merits in the field of activity of the rural community of its president Fatima Bujnowska.

The so important to the local Tatar celebration was attended by many distinguished guests, including the Tartar communities from various places of Lithuania – Klaipeda and Niemieża, from Belarus, Poland, Tatarstan. The congratulatory letters to the Lithuanian Tatars, and the local authorities of the Vilnius region were turned to the deputy chairman of the World Congress of Tatars Renat Nakifowicz Walulin of Tatarstan. The ceremony with his presence was honoured by: Aydan Yamancan, the Ambassador of Turkey in Lithuania; Łukasz Kaźmierczak, the Second Secretary of the Consular Section of the Polish Embassy in Vilnius; Michał Treszczyński, a counselor of the Vilnius region, Maria Maciulewicz, the governor of the Pagiriai municipality in which there is the area of the village of Sorok Tatary.

After the official opening ceremony of the feast, the participants were invited to participate in Namazie – the Muslim worship in the mosque. After the prayer, the audience gathered at the concert, which was performed by both visitors from distant Tatarstan, from Klaipeda, a band of Bujwidz and the local population. The star of the day was Katarzyna Zvonkuvienė which cheered the audience with merry songs sung in Polish, Lithuanian and Russian. And although she did not sing in Tatar, there were some people in the audience – daredevils who the melody of Polish hits sung in Tatar.

Near the mosque there is a fair spread of local folk artists. Pomeranian arts high school teachers – Svetlana Butar and Ada Germanavičienė – presented a piece of wood inlays and cutouts. Leatherworking was presented by Virginijus Jakubauskas, a Tatar from the Širvintos region, whose family for over two centuries is engaged in manual production of leather goods. On the other hand, at Rosa Ščuckienė’s, you could buy a traditional Tatar cake – stulistnik (šimtalapis). In contrast, Ali Sazonik prepared a pilau – two huge cauldrons of rice with stewed beef, spiced carrots, peas and raisins emptied in the blink of an eye.

Teresa Worobiej

Photograph: the author


The Tartar settlement Sorok Tatary in the Vilnius region existed before more than 600 years ago. There the Grand Duke of Lithuania Vytautas settled, among others, the followers of Islam, captured from battlefields around the Black Sea and the Don, which were fought in the fourteenth century, during the expedition to the Crimea. The Lord allowed them to settle in Lithuania with their families, and to this corner of the Vilnius region (as indicated by the numeral in the name) probably went 40 of them, but one version says that Sorok Tatary was created by four captains of Tatars: Sobol, Bajrasza, Tygusza and Łaszkucia, whose wives gave birth to a total of 40 children.

Today the village is home to approximately 480 residents, 115 of them – these are the Tartars. Islamic community at the mosque in Sorok Tatary has about 320 worshipers, many of whom – are inhabitants of Vilnius and other towns in Lithuania, but the roots of their family come from the village.

Based on: “Religious Heritage of the Vilnius Region”

Translated by Paulina Baca within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.

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