Picking of iva grass on Ozren mountain
Inscribed in 2018 (13.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
On 11 September each year, the day of the beheading of St. John the Baptist, inhabitants of the villages around Ozren mountain go to Gostilij to pick iva grass. After hiking up the hills, villagers of all social, gender and age groups pick iva grass, both individually and in groups. Iva must be picked carefully and pickers need to find it among the higher grass; the process therefore usually takes a few hours. When the picking is done, they climb up Gostilij and assemble into smaller groups, many wearing Ozren folk costumes, to play, dance and sing traditional music. In the afternoon, Orthodox priests climb up to the peak of Gostilij where they consecrate the iva. Iva is consumed in different ways (as a tea, soaked in brandy, mixed with honey) both for its curative effect and preventively. While in the past the practice was exclusively related to folk medicine, nowadays its primary functions include hospitality and social integration, as well as helping to safeguard Ozren costumes, songs and dances that have been gradually disappearing. The practice is transmitted spontaneously within the family, as well as in primary schools. Several local associations also invite similar organizations from different regions to take part in the practice, leading to the inclusion of many practitioners from outside of Ozren.