Translation Wielokulturowość i Wielowyznaniowość

MULTICULTURALISM AND RELIGIOUS PLURALISM OF BIŁGORAJ PROVINCE

 

Population of present day Biłgoraj province used to be diverse, with Poles, Ruthenians and Jews as its main inhabitants. In 1897, there were 10 240 people living  in Biłgoraj county making it the most densely populated county in the region. Despite religious diversity, there were no tensions between the different  groups of Catholic, Ruthenian Uniate, Greek Orthodox and Jewish inhabitants. In the 16th and the 17th centuries, Biłgoraj, Turobin and Radzięcin also had a recorded Calvinist minority. During interwar period, over 70% of the population were Poles,  10% of identified themselves as Jews, and 17,9% as Ukrainians.

In 1875, the Ruthenian Union Chełm diocese was dissolved and  reorganized as a Greek Catholic Church, and the Ruthenian Uniates were forced to convert. At the time, there were four Greek Orthodox churches, 9 catholic parishes and four synagogues in the region. In 1905, as a result of the Polish Revolution of 1905, members of the Orthodox church were allowed to convert to any other Christian belief system. However, visible fall in the number of converts pushed the State Duma into establishing a new guberniya with prevailing Orthodox  population, and so on July 6th, 1912 a decree about Chełm guberniya was passed. As a result, apart from very few villages inhabited by Polish majority, nearly entire Biłgoraj county was incorporated into the newly established administrative unit. Polish territory, including Biłgoraj, became part of Chełmszczyzna. Only Biszcza, Babice and Księżpol had over 50% of Orthodox population. New Biłgoraj county was much smaller as it only had one town, two settlements and ten boroughs with 101 villages. In 1913, 102 382 people lived on 999,14 square kilometres.

Attempts to specify the character of Biłgoraj county focus primarily on folk culture. Lack of manor houses and middle class id one of the regions characteristic features. At the end of the 19th century, Biłgoraj was the only town in the region, and even it was a poorly developed one. Majority of inhabitants were Roman Catholic and Orthodox villagers. Minor dissimilarities between the groups, such as calendar or forms of sacral building, were  in fact more technicalities than differences while material culture was nearly identical. Both Catholic and Orthodox natives wore similar clothes and lived in same-style houses furnished with similar pieces manufactured in identical way. Due to religious constraints Jewish population were significantly different in all the aspects.

Folk culture prevailed in the area even after the Second World War when the population was nearly homogenous. Folk art and customs are particularly interesting and unique. Apart from sieve making craft, which has been the feature characterising the region for centuries, Biłgoraj developed distinguished folk costume, embroidery and traditional Easter eggs adornment, Biłgoraj dialects and folks songs. Musical instruments such as folk violin called suka biłgorajska, oktawka, and a Biłgoraj-style drum are found only this region of Poland. So are some architectural elements such as a fence or a lichgate, clay bowls and decorated chests, or wooden road crosses. Unique regional dishes include green beer, pieróg biłgorajski, krężałki, and Cornelian cherry vodka and cranberry vodka. The Konik (Polish konik biłgorajski) or the Polish primitive horse  and Biłgorajska goose are Biłgoraj two indigenous species.

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