Continued from page 1

The church is lovingly used. During Easter services, women clad in white headscarves sing hymns during services, even if many don’t know the words.

Mr. Karaj said Easter is a time to celebrate and his close friend Arif Hoxhollari from the neighboring Muslim village will come over to dine, to drink and sing.

The two are inseparable, working the summer pastures together as shepherds.

Although Mr. Karaj is Christian and Mr. Hoxhollari is Muslim, they say their religious differences do not matter. They visit each other on religious holidays and weddings.

“Luckily, in the whole country, the relations between religions, between Muslims and Christians are fairly peaceful and people understand and respect each others’ faith,” said Mr. Karaj. “I have married my two daughters to Muslims. It doesn’t bother us.”

Mr. Hoxhollari added, “In the olden days, we only used to marry among our own kind: They didn’t get our women, and they didn’t give us theirs. Never!

“But for the last 20 years, we’ve had good relations. We slaughter our animals for our feasts. We come together and celebrate as a family. This is also a kind of liberation.”

Just before Easter, Mr. Karaj strolled through his village. In the distance, the rattling clang of the old, broken village bell rang out.

In communist times, even the bell was misused, ringing early in the morning as a collective wake-up call to summon villagers to work.

On Sunday, it will ring to bring villagers together to celebrate the rebirth of Christ.