White-painted bride honors Bulgarian Muslim rite

White-painted bride honors Bulgarian Muslim rite

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

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

The remote town of Ribnovo, set for a snowy mountainside in southwest Bulgaria, has held its old-fashioned cold weather 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 old-fashioned wedding after the ban ended up being lifted, then again the custom somehow died away — women wanted become contemporary,” said Ali Mustafa Bushnak, 61, whoever child arrived to view Fikrie’s wedding.

“Maybe our company is by the end associated with entire world. Or individuals in Ribnovo are extremely spiritual and proud of the traditions.”

Some professionals state clinging towards the traditional marriage ceremony is Ribnovo’s reply to the persecutions of history.

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

The marriage ritual had been resurrected with vitality one of the Pomaks — Slavs whom transformed into Islam under Ottoman guideline and make up 2.5 now 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 and another other town when you look at the Balkan nation. Teenage boys get back from abroad to your mountain that is crisp, only for winter months weddings.

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


Fikrie’s family members have now been laboriously turning up her dowry since she came to be — mostly handmade knit-work, quilts, coverlets, sheets, aprons, socks, floor coverings.

On a sunny Saturday cold weather early early morning they hang those items on a scaffolding that is wooden 50 meters very very long and three meters high, erected particularly for the event from the high, dirty road of scruffy two-storey homes that results in her house.

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

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

However the highlight associated with ceremony, the artwork regarding the bride’s face, comes at the conclusion associated with day that is second.

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

Clad in baggy pants 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 in the wedding receptions and intercourse before wedding is taboo.


Ethnographers state it really is difficult to date the painting that is bridal, given that communist regime failed to encourage studies into minority cultural and spiritual teams.

“It is extremely most likely it is a tradition that is invented. It’s their option to show who they really are,” said Margarita Karamihova, a co-employee teacher during the visit our main web site Ethnography Institute regarding the Bulgarian Academy of Science.

Professionals say Pomaks had identification dilemmas and encountered more challenges as compared to majority of Muslims in Bulgaria, who’re cultural Turks.

“In the 1960s they would ban music that is islamic weddings, they will never enable old-fashioned clothing, as well as in the 1980s, the complete old-fashioned Pomak wedding had been prohibited,” said municipality mayor, Ahmed Bashev, created in Ribnovo.

Ribnovo’s inhabitants utilized which will make an income from tobacco and farming, but low incomes within the poorest EU country forced men to start out searching for jobs in metropolitan areas in Bulgaria or perhaps in western Europe — maybe not least to increase cash for a wedding.

Outside impacts have now been sluggish to achieve Ribnovo and teenagers seldom marry an outsider. Another Fikrie, 19-year-old Fikrie Inuzova, proposed the ladies, for who the appropriate bridal age is as much as 22, are not pretty quickly to modernize.

“My bro wants to visit, understand world. It’s different for guys. They are able to do any. I wish to remain right right here and marry.”

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