The Legends of Zamna River, of Rajska (Heaven’s) Cave and of “Natama” (The collective curse) – Asociaţia Pro-Mehedinţi

Thematic route: The cultural heritage route

Name of the touristic attraction: The Legends of Zamna River, of Rajska (Heaven’s) Cave and of “Natama” (The collective curse)

Description: According to a legend, Rajska Cave was named in the 13thcentury, after the death of an unknown worshiper or monk who lived an ascetic life in it. He cured many sick and injured people with his prayers and rituals developed in the cave. This is testified by the records carved into the inside rocks of the cave. After his death, the cave kept its healing power and people kept on visiting it. Various people in need came there: barren women, parents with deaf and dumb children, etc. They kissed the walls of the cave and prayed for help. Since then it has been popularly known as Rajska Cave.

Another interesting story is connected to this place. In front of the cave, at the mouth of the Dubasnica River into Zamna, the ritual called “NATAMA” was performed until World War 2. At the time when there were no yards, the people in the villages of Eastern Serbia, in this particular case in the villages of Stubik and Plavna, were constantly finding new ways to uncover and punish a thief or any other committer of misdeeds. The collective curse – “natama” was organized after arsons or thefts with the intention to identify the committer of the misdeeds.

The ‘damaged’ man stood before the gathered people and loudly cursed with the following words: “Hear me people, whoever fired my hay, let everything he has be burnt into the fire and let him never have anything in his life. Let no sound ever be heard in his house: either a yell, or a bee, a moo, or a cry”. All gathered people, almost the whole village, except for the sick, the old and the children, repeated the same words of the curse after him.

Since the committer of the misdeed was there, among the gathered people, terrified by the dangerous curse, he would step out and confess what he had done. The owner of the burnt hay would forgive him, glad that the justice had been served before the whole village, and there would be no more severe punishment for the committer than the one to step out in front of everyone and confess.

The ritual of “natama” ended with a common lunch and an organized public festivity with music, in front of the Rajska Cave.

That is how Rajska Cave, in such cases, would solve the rural problems and mysteries.