The Rajac Scythe Festival

Rajac Scythe Festival is an event of a traditional character organized in honor of the mowers from the rural areas. It is one of the most famous and the most successful events in Serbia that makes Ljig widely recognizable. This is an event with a long tradition, known beyond the borders of Serbia. In the area where the livestock production is a core business, one of the most important jobs is mowing. In the past, crops were collected by voluntary assistance of relatives and neighbors (“moba”), when people gather together at each other’s places and jointly perform this important and difficult job. This was activity of a great importance for the whole community, so they used to celebrate every start and, especially, the completion of the mowing. The first contest of mowers on Rajac was held in far 1892, as well as the first village fair. Later on, in 1965 and 1967 the idea of Rajac Scythe Festival came up. In the past, mowing had been done up until the holiday known as the St. Peter’s Day (12th July). Therefore, this event represents a symbolic and ceremonial completion of the year’s mowing, held every year on the first Sunday after St. Peter’s Day. It has been continuously organized for more than 40 years. Every year tens of thousands of visitors from all over Serbia and the region enjoy the unique presentation of this heavy and important work, which is had been done at this territory not so long ago. The event takes three days and is full of various cultural, artistic and sports activities, but as the central event stands out the international festival and competition of the best mowers. It is unique and the largest cup competition in the world that gathers winners from local and regional mowing contests. The festival begins by gathering and ceremonial parade of mowers wearing traditional costumes, straw hats and colorful embroidered bags on their shoulders, together with other participants, such as trumpets, person in charge for traditional toasting, young girls carrying water for the mowers, women that prepare lunch for the mowers etc. All participants in the parade walk slowly to the meadow where contest takes place. There are 2 parts of the contest: competitive (official) and mass (ceremonial) contest. The best mower from the official part is declared as a winner and is rewarded with a Golden Scythe award. The winner of the ceremonial competition is selected upon following criteria, beside the necessary skill: appearance, costume and voice for singing. He is titled as Djidija or Kozbasa and he is the one who leads the parade nest year. After ceremonial mowing, traditional mowers lunch is being served on the grass, laid on kilims and white sheets. Numerous visitors can enjoy the programme (traditional dancing and singing groups from surrounding villages, concerts of pop, rock and folk music etc) or visit agricultural machinery exhibition. Rajac Scythe Festival gathers mowers from numerous countries: Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, Norway, China, Great Britain, Iceland, Romania, Russia, Holland, Hungary and Denmark. Rajac Scythe Festival was declared as the most successful traditional tourist event in Serbia in 2007 by the tourist event organizers.