2nd year Melisa Numan travels home to Golyamo Vranovo, Rousse, Bulgaria to visit Asiye Novmanova and Nedzmie Hocain, the last two Hoca in the village. Hoca, or hoxha is the Turkish term for a Muslim teacher and used as an honorary title or surname for religious reader. The Hoca are present to perform necessary ceremonies in Golyamo Vranovo at events like mevlit (reading of the literary texts from the Quran) on holy days, after childbirth, the day before a wedding and before a funeral. Local Hoca are deeply respected by the people they serve.
Asiye Novmanova was born in 1937 and has lived her whole life in the village. Graduating from school aged 13 she started working for her family’s fields and working with their animals. She recalls riding a horse to get to the fields. Married at 18 years old she gave birth to her first child at 20, after which she then started working at the Mayority in the village until she retired. When she started getting her pension, she started reading as a Hoca more professionally.
Words and pictures by by Melisa Numan