|The International Festival
of Masquerade Games is held in the town of Pernik every even year
This is the most important people's
cultural event in the region. More than 5000 performers from all over
Bulgaria, as well as formations from many European countries take part
in the festival. It is an an illustration of the most vital and
deep-rooted traditions of masquerading rites dating from the remote
past and preserved for us to the present.
In ancient times the old
Thracians held the Kukeri Ritual Games in honour of god
Dionysus - the especially known as a god of wine and ecstasy.
Even today these games are also known as the Dionysus’ games.
Among the Kukeri dancers’ are many characters, including
Dionysus and his satyrs as well as others from deep history such
as the tsar, harachari, plyuvkachi, startzi, and pesyatzi.
There are people from Europe,
Asia and Africa as well as representatives from every folklore
region in Bulgaria who all come to Pernik to celebrate. They
come here for the thrill of the competition and the pride of
presenting the traditions of their ancestors. They also come
here to have fun.
The masked participants are called
kukeri, kukove, survakari, startsi, babugeri, dzhamailari, kamilari,
etc. They will dress in fur hides or in traditional women's costumes.
They will dance for you in their fancy-dress.
The performance of the masked
men, commonly known as Survakari or Kukeri, is a mystical union
of rhythm, sound, and color. Wearing unique costumes and
magnificent masks, they move around in their characteristic
stride filling the air with the sounds of hundreds of bells,
with songs, prayers and wishes.
During the international
festival Bulgarian and foreign folk groups march in procession
through Pernik; displaying exuberant costumes and fantastic
masks to constant ring of bells and rattles. They are performing
the ancient rite of chasing away evil and celebrating the
triumph of reborn life with the beginning of spring and the
associated hopes of man for better harvest and better life.
A jury consisting of ethnic, folk
and culture specialists from Bulgarian Academy of Sciences,
universities, the Pernik Historical Museum and others will
evaluate the masquerade games performances in two categories:
winter games and customs and pre-spring games and customs.