Holy Lities in Kuti and Zelenika

—By O.N.—

The Easter Lity (also Litiya, procession) through Kuti takes place on the second day of Easter, on Easter Monday, and is the most populous procession in Herceg Novi. According to tradition, every year after the service at the Holy Trinity church, the metropolitan of Montenegro and the Littoral with the clergy lead the procession. The procession descends from Kuti towards Zelenika. On the way of the procession, several tables are always set up to serve Easter eggs, cakes, and drinks. After a few hours, the holy procession arrives at the spiritual center of Cyril and Methodius, where the hosts from the Church committee have prepared a rich agape feast. There, the folk celebration begins, with an appropriate cultural-artistic program.

In the past, during the kingdom era, the people of Kuti held four lities.

The most significant of these was organized on Pentecost Monday as part of the two-day Trinity festivity. The procession started from the church of the Holy Trinity, circled around the village once, before descending to the shore and went along the main road to the border with the parish of Kumbor, and then returned to the church of the Holy Trinity through the church of the Holy Lady. On this occasion, the local clergy and faithful people usually participated, as well as the local ensemble from Djenovici or Herceg Novi. After the procession, a folk celebration with music, folk dances, and refreshments was usually organized in the churchyard.

The second most important was the so-called Easter feast with a procession on Easter Monday. The procession did not go through Zelenika then, but after circling around the village, it went through the church of St. George to Mount Ilija in Obalica. After the religious service, the people of Obalica would bring out refreshments. After that, the procession would continue through Glogovik and Pestorici to the church of St. Andrew, then through the church of Our Lady to the church of the Holy Trinity, where everything would end with a celebration.

The third one was the Vidovdan procession, a vow procession. The procession went through a similar route as the Easter procession. The origin of this vow procession is difficult to determine today.

The fourth lity was organized by the parish of Western Kuti. It took place on the day of Saint Emperor Constantine and Empress Helena. While the first three processions were primarily related to the parish church of Holy Trinity, this one was related to the church of St. Elijah. When the parishes of Western and Eastern Kuta were united in 1936, the Easter liturgy merged the routes of both lities in honor of the unification.

During World War II, lities were not held.

After liberation, the lities were revived, but this lasted only until 1947, when the new Communist authorities banned all religious ceremonies, including lities.

During the communist era, the lities were reduced to circling the church of the Holy Trinity three times for major holidays. The people of Kuti did not have their own parish priest from then until the dissolution of Yugoslavia, and services for major holidays were conducted by priests from the surrounding areas.

The Easter lity through Kuti was renewed on April 24, 1995, at the initiative of the then parish priest, Father Živan Vukojević, and professor Veselin Velja Pestorić, then the director of the library in Herceg Novi and a prominent member of the church committee. The procession was held with the blessing and presence of His Eminence, the late Metropolitan Amfilohije, who served the Holy Liturgy and led the procession.

According to Professor Pestorić, they received threats before the procession, so he was afraid that the turnout would be very small, but in the end, there were over 1000, and according to some estimates, up to 2000 people in the procession.

The procession passed through the village, but at that time it still did not descend into Zelenika. At the request of Professor Pestorić, the Metropolitan censed the grave of Father Sava Nakićenović, located next to the church of St. Andrew. Drinks were served at the places where the procession stopped, as well as Easter eggs and cakes. After the procession, agape lunch was served at a table set up in the courtyard of the Church of the Holy Trinity. A cultural program was also prepared, including gusle playing, singing ethnic songs, and folk dances performed by several members of the folklore group “Ilija Kišić”.

The second procession after the renewal was held on April 12, 1999, during the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. This procession was even more populous than the first, and for the first time, the mayor attended as a representative of the municipality of Herceg Novi.

The next procession was held in 2001. From this year, the procession grew into a large Orthodox gathering attended by clergy and faithful people from the western part of the Bay of Kotor and beyond. The procession route was extended to include Zelenika, a coastal part of the settlement for the first time, so the procession became a kind of mix of the former Easter and Holy Trinity processions. The procession was also accompanied by trumpet players, who performed mainly during breaks.

Since 2005 and the arrival of the new parish priest, Father Dragan Pešikan in Kuti, the Easter procession has been held every year.

The Vidovdan Lity was renewed on Vidovdan 1999. It was organized after the end of the NATO bombing and provided an opportunity for prayer for the preservation of Kosovo. In the first year, the procession went from the Holy Trinity Church, through the upper Kuti to the Church of St. George, where the liturgy was served. Other churches were also visited, and streams and springs were blessed, according to the custom of old processions.

There was no refreshment along the way, and after the procession, a Lenten lunch was prepared in the courtyard of the Holy Trinity Church. There were about sixty people in the procession.

The procession continued to be held every year and has a strictly local character. The original, quite strenuous procession route has been significantly shortened over the years and today, after the liturgy at the Church of St. Apostle Andrew, the procession goes to the Church of Our Lady.

The Trinity Day Lity has not been renewed, although it was attempted in 2003 when it was held instead of the Easter Lity. Instead of it a folk celebration is annualy held in front of the Holy Trinity Church.

The feast of St. Emperor Constantine and Empress Helena is celebrated by serving liturgy at the Church of St. Elijah in Lastva, without a procession.

References: Vesna Vučinić-Nešković – Revival of Processions in Contemporary Montenegro Litiyas of Kuti and Their Transformation since the 1990s, Ethnologia Balkanica 16, 2012