According to oral tradition, the “guarding of the Christ’s tomb” is a 5 centuries old tradition performed each year in #Vrlika, a small town in #Dalmatia, situated between the mountains of Dinara and Svilaj. On Good Friday, prominent men from the village put on their national costumes and gather in front of the Church of the Holy Father Nicholas in Vrlika, where they elect the “Harambaša” (chieftain) – the leader of the procession for the current year. The event begins by laying the shroud in Christ’s grave, when the Harambaša introduces the first two guards to the temple, in complete silence. The guards stand quietly, while the only sign they give to one another is the strike of the wooden rifle against the ground, since real weapons are not allowed in the church. The guards change every few minutes, and the process is repeated during all the ceremonies that take place until Easter, when all the guards enter the church together with the rest of the people. On Easter the guards organize a festive lunch in the churchyard, where they celebrate with their friends and relatives, singing traditional songs of the Dinara Serbs. Since it is known that a similar ceremony is also performed in #Jerusalem, it is probable that someone who went there on a pilgrimage saw that custom and brought it back to Vrlika.
After the notorious Croatian military operation “Storm” in 1995, when the entire Serbian population was expelled and Serbian church demolished, it took 10 years to restore this tradition. In 2005, with the blessing of the Serbian Orthodox Church, the tradition was revived in Batajnica (Belgrade) in the Church of the Nativity of the Holy Virgin, so today the Guardians perform the ceremony both in Batajnica and their native Vrlika. Since they enjoy a great reputation within the Serbian Orthodox Church, they are regular guests in Serbian holy places like the Hilandar Monastery, Cetinje Monastery, Oplenac, Saint Sava’s Temple, the Church of St. Mark in Belgrade.
Source: fb page/MeetTheSerbs