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day before the holiday, a commemorative ritual (
) in memory of the victims, a competition
of children’s drawings, a festive concert, a culinary exhibition, a cocktail party at the municipality
building, and a public gathering with a musical program in the town square.
Similar in content, albeit much more modest, is the noting of these events in Krichim – also
held on May 6
. Early in the morning, a ritual prayer for rain is made by the imam and water is
sprinkled in different parts of the town. After that, specially arranged buses take the people to the
location of Babàta, which is around 8 kilometers outside the town. The celebration is organized
by the Muslims of Krichim, and – as local people remark – “it is the holiday of Krichim people,
of the Turks in the town.”
Curiously, at my visit to Krichim, some of the Christian people knew
about the gathering, but others did not have a clear idea and associated the prayer for rain as
if being held by the Orthodox Church and as related to the rituals of St. George’s Day (also on
May 6
). The event was attended by a large number of guests from Turkey – most of them were
children or relatives of resettlers, who take the occasion of the gathering and the related spring
holidays to visit their native places, to participate in family gatherings and to maintain contacts
with kin and friends in the town. Linked with a decade-long tradition of organizing a votive mean
at this location, in recent years, the holiday passed under the headline of the commemorative
ceremonies organized by DPS, hence it included also the presence of politicians at the opening
and the official part of the event, and it is namely this function, with which it was inscribed in the
calendar of commemorative occasions. The layering of the commemorative ceremony upon a
previous traditional holiday permits themutual activation of the two occasions – of the celebration
and the commemoration. This enables the continuation of the village tradition, yet enhanced
with the traces of shared memory about the traumatic events and enlivened by the presence of
relatives returning for the holiday.
Even grander and more imposing as organization and people’s attendance were the
gatherings in Shiroka Polyana and Karamantsi in Haskovo region – organized on 6
and 7
May. Both of them are preceded by long-term preparations and their organization is generally
known already one year in advance. In both
cases, it is a matter of old village gatherings, to
which a solemn noting of the so-called “May
Events” was added in recent years and this led
to the revival of a tradition, which (according
to the local people) had gradually decreased
before 1989. The gathering in Karamantsi is
referred to by village people as “having existed
since the interwar period, and even earlier.”
During socialism, the village fair was removed
to a meadow above the village and in recent
years it has been widely attended by guests
from neighboring villages and from visitors
12 A conversation with local people in May 2011.
Photo 2.
Commemorative meeting on the occasion of the
events of May 10th, 1984 – the official part of the program,
Karamantsi (2011, N. Vukov)