White-painted bride honors Bulgarian Muslim rite


White-painted bride honors Bulgarian Muslim rite

RIBNOVO, Bulgaria (Reuters) – Fikrie Sabrieva, 17, will marry with her eyes shut along with her face painted white, dotted with bright sequins. She lives ‘at the conclusion regarding the world’, tending A muslim that is hardy culture mostly Christian Bulgaria.

Kiddies view the marriage ceremony of Moussa Babechki and Fikrie Sabrieva into the town of Ribnovo, into the Rhodope Mountains, some 210km (130miles) south of Sofia 13, 2008 january. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

The remote town of Ribnovo, set for a snowy mountainside in southwest Bulgaria, has kept its old-fashioned wintertime wedding service alive despite decades of Communist persecution, followed closely by poverty that forced lots of men to find work abroad.

“Other nearby villages tried the traditional wedding after the ban ended up being lifted, then again the custom somehow died away — ladies wanted become contemporary, ” said Ali Mustafa Bushnak, 61, whoever child arrived to look at Fikrie’s wedding.

“Maybe our company is at the conclusion of this whole world. Or individuals in Ribnovo are particularly spiritual and proud of these traditions. ”

Some professionals say clinging to your old-fashioned marriage ceremony is Ribnovo’s response to the persecutions of history.

Bulgaria may be the only eu country where Muslims’ share is really as high as 12 %. The regime that is communist which would not tolerate any spiritual rituals, tried to forcibly integrate Muslims into Bulgaria’s mostly Christian Orthodox populace, pushing them to abandon putting on their conventional outfits and adopt Slavonic names.

The marriage ritual had been resurrected with vitality on the list of Pomaks — Slavs who changed into Islam under Ottoman rule and now make up 2.5 per cent of Bulgaria’s 7.8 million populace — after communism collapsed in 1989.

But today it’s still done just within the shut culture of Ribnovo plus one other village into the Balkan country. Teenage boys get back from abroad to your mountain that is crisp, only for the wintertime hot sudanese girls weddings.

Individuals in Ribnovo identify on their own more by their faith, as Muslims, than by their ethnicity or nationality, plus the wedding party is a manifestation of these piety. The town has 10 clerics and two mosques for 3,500 inhabitants.


Fikrie’s family members have already been laboriously turning up her dowry since she was created — mostly handmade knit-work, quilts, coverlets, sheets, aprons, socks, carpets and rugs.

For a sunny Saturday cold temperatures early early early morning they hang the things for a scaffolding that is wooden 50 meters very long and three meters high, erected especially for the event in the steep, dirty road of scruffy two-storey homes that results in her house.

Most people when you look at the town involves inspect the offerings: Fikrie’s tiny homeyard has been changed into a showroom when it comes to furniture and home devices the bride needs to allow for her brand brand brand new household.

The girl and her husband-to-be, Moussa, 20, then lead a conventional horo party on the main square, accompanied by a lot of the village’s youth.

Nevertheless the highlight regarding the ceremony, the artwork associated with bride’s face, comes at the end regarding the 2nd day.

In a personal rite available and then feminine in-laws, Fikrie’s face is covered in thick, chalky white paint and decorated with colorful sequins. An extended veil that is red her locks, her mind is framed with tinsel, her painted face veiled with and silvery filaments.

Clad in baggy jeans and bodice shimmering in every the colors for the rainbow, the bride is presented by her husband to be, her mom along with her grandmother towards the crowd that is waiting.

Fikrie is certainly not allowed to start her eyes wide until a Muslim priest blesses the young few. Alcohol is forbidden at the wedding receptions and intercourse before wedding is taboo.


Ethnographers state it’s difficult to date the bridal painting ritual, since the communist regime would not encourage studies into minority ethnic and spiritual teams.

“It is quite most most likely it is an invented tradition. An associate professor at the Ethnography Institute of the Bulgarian Academy of Science it’s their way to express who they are, ” said Margarita Karamihova.

Professionals state Pomaks had identification dilemmas and encountered more challenges compared to the bulk of Muslims in Bulgaria, that are cultural Turks.

“In the 1960s they might ban music that is islamic weddings, chances are they will never enable conventional clothing, plus in the 1980s, the entire old-fashioned Pomak wedding had been prohibited, ” said municipality mayor, Ahmed Bashev, created in Ribnovo.

Ribnovo’s inhabitants utilized to produce a living from tobacco and farming, but low incomes into the EU country that is poorest forced men to start out looking for jobs in urban centers in Bulgaria or in western Europe — maybe maybe not minimum to increase cash for a marriage.

Outside impacts have now been sluggish to achieve Ribnovo and young adults seldom marry an outsider. Another Fikrie, 19-year-old Fikrie Inuzova, proposed the ladies, for who the appropriate age that is bridal as much as 22, aren’t in a hurry to modernize.

“My bro wants traveling, look at globe. It’s different for males. They could do any. I would like to remain here and marry. ”

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