White-painted bride honors Bulgarian Muslim rite

White-painted bride honors Bulgarian Muslim rite

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

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

The remote town of Ribnovo, set for a mountainside that is snowy southwest Bulgaria, has held its conventional cold temperatures marriage service alive despite decades of Communist persecution, accompanied by poverty that forced lots of men to get work abroad.

“Other nearby villages tried the old-fashioned marriage after the ban had been 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 regarding the planet. Or individuals in Ribnovo are extremely proud and religious of these traditions.”

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

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

The marriage ritual ended up being resurrected with vitality on the list of Pomaks — Slavs whom transformed into Islam under Ottoman guideline and now constitute 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 society that is closed of and something other village into the Balkan country. Teenage boys return from abroad to your crisp mountain snows, only for the wintertime weddings.

Individuals in Ribnovo identify on their own more by their faith, as Muslims, than by their ethnicity or nationality, plus the marriage ceremony is a manifestation of these 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 temperatures early morning they hang those items on a scaffolding that is wooden 50 meters very long and three meters high, erected specifically for the event on the steep, muddy road of scruffy two-storey homes that causes her house.

Most people within the town comes to examine the offerings: Fikrie’s tiny homeyard has been changed into a showroom when it comes to furniture and home devices the bride needs to offer her brand brand new household.

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

However the highlight of this ceremony, the artwork regarding the bride’s face, comes at the conclusion associated with the 2nd time.

In a rite that is private and then feminine in-laws, Fikrie’s face is covered in dense, 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 of this rainbow, the bride is presented by her husband to be, her mom and her grandmother into the waiting audience.

Fikrie just isn’t allowed to open up her eyes wide until a Muslim priest blesses the couple that is young. Liquor 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, once the communist regime didn’t encourage studies into minority ethnic and spiritual teams.

“It is quite most likely it is a tradition that is invented. 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 issues and encountered more challenges compared to bulk of Muslims in Bulgaria, that are cultural Turks.

“In the 1960s they might ban music that is islamic weddings, chances are they wouldn’t normally allow conventional garments, 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 a full time income from tobacco and farming, but low incomes into the poorest EU country forced men to start out looking for jobs in metropolitan areas in Bulgaria or in western see page Europe — maybe not least to boost cash for a marriage.

Outside impacts have already been sluggish to attain Ribnovo and people that are young marry an outsider. Another Fikrie, 19-year-old Fikrie Inuzova, proposed the ladies, for whom the appropriate bridal age is up to 22, aren’t in a hurry to modernize.

“My brother wants to travel, see the globe. It’s different for males. They are able to do whatever. I wish to remain right here and marry.”

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