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Bulgarian Pomaks keep traditional wedding rite alive

The marriage of Nefie Eminkova, 21, and her fiancĂ© Schaban Kiselov, 24, is an extravaganza of bright colours, flowers, feasting and dancing. But the bride, who comes from Bulgaria’s Pomak minority, can see none of it. Her eyes must remain tightly closed until a Muslim priest blesses the couple. The newly-weds are following an age-old traditional winter wedding rite that their tiny community, nestled in the southern Rhodope mountains, was forced to abandon during communist era but has been revived since the fall of the regime in 1989. The ritual spans across two whole days, starting with a lavish display of the bride’s dowry. It comprises “everything you can think of” that a new family might need, Nefie explains.

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