Page 145 - MIGRATION

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MIGRATION, MEMORY, HERITAGE: SOCIO-CULTURAL
APPROACHES TO THE BULGARIAN-TURKISH BORDER
Through the attention to the events of 1980s, this party not only commemorated moments with
particularly traumatic resonance for the Bulgarian Turks and not only outlined the contribution
of the Turkish population in Bulgaria for the fall of the communist regime, but also presented
itself as a major guardian of the rights of this community and, respectively, as its main political
representative in Bulgaria nowadays. Hereby, I would not like to slip into the realm of the political
debate, but I would like to point this out as an important element in the commemoration of these
events over the last several years.
In 2011, more than 30 commemorative meetings and celebrations were held within the
program of the so called “May Events” – the organized protests of Bulgarian Turks in May 1989
against the forceful change of their names.
9
The beginning of this commemorative program was
put on April 30 in the village of Belovets, Razgrad region and included an International Folklore
Festival and horse racing competition in the location of “Bozhurite” [The Peons]. Most of the
commemorative meetings were in May, and they involved a series of villages in Northeast and
Southeast Bulgaria, as well as villages inhabited by Bulgarian Turks and Bulgarian Muslims in
other parts of the country.
10
In June, meetings with this purpose were held in Byala Palanka (Sliven
region), Zărnevo (Dobrich region), Antonovo and Bratovo (Tărgovishte region). Gatherings related
to the noting of the “Revival” process were also held in August – in Trem (Shumen region), as
well as in September – e.g. in Vărbitsa (Shumen region).
11
Having got as a purpose to note events
from the late 1980s, a large part of these events included specially organized cultural events
and are frequently connected to previous traditional fairs and village gatherings. The elements
of the cultural program – some of which announced as headlines and main emphases in the
commemorative meetings – include folklore and village feasts, traditional wrestling contests,
horse racing competitions, celebration of Hidrelez, votive meals, ritual prayers for rain, etc. Among
the more interesting events in this regard were: organized visits by bus to locations in Turkey
(Karaacli, Manisa – Izmir) in the middle of May; the evenings of the Turkish culture in Burgas;
the festival of Turkish culture in Ardino in July, etc. In the village of Muldava, for example, the
gathering is connected with St. George’s Day on May 6, which is celebrated as a village holiday and
visitors from different parts of the country come to see the traditional wrestling events. A widely
attended public prayer for rain is held in the forest nearby. Such a prayer is also held in the village
of Medovets, Varna region – the ceremony includes a deposition of wreaths in memory of the two
young people who died during the “Revival” process and a votive meal for the appeasement of
their souls. An evenmore celebratory tone is applied in the commemorative noting of the“Revival”
process in Djebel, which takes place on the day of the dramatic events of protests in 1989 – May 19,
which has been proclaimed after the political changes as the trown’s holiday. The activities involve
sports events, a bridge tournament, singing and dancing performances of folklore groups on the
9 See http://www.dps.bg/news/events/543/maiski-sabitia-2011.aspx
10 Among the villages and towns listed in the program of commemorative events about the “Revival” process
in May were: Galata (Lovech region), Byala Reka, Pristoe, Malomir and Vălnari (Shumen region), Seydol, Ezerche, Sevar
and Demir Baba Tekke (Razgrad region), Yablanovo (Sliven region), Krichim, Lăki and Muldava (Plovdiv region), Djebel
and Byal Izvor (Kardjali region), Shiroka Polyana and Karamantsi (Haskovo region), Krepcha (Tărgovishte region),
Medovets and Asparuhovo (varna region), and Ruen (Burgas region).
11 For the program of events see http://www.dps.bg/news/events/543/maiski-sabitia-2011.aspx