Page 174 - MIGRATION

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built near the well, a walnut tree brought from Bulgaria was planted next to it. The bridge from
which the descendants ceremoniously cast into the river three wreaths dedicated to the memory
of hundreds of men who died in 1913 on the Bridge of Buydin is not the same bridge, nor is it on
the same spot, but the reconstruction by means of the story told identifies a suitable background
for the ritualized acts.
Memorial practices were evident during the two trips I observed. In the village of
Bulgarköy a memorial service was conducted for all ancestors - those who tragically lost their lives,
when exiled from their birthplaces, dying on the way or on Bulgarian territory. These activities are
closest to ritualized acts since they entail mandatory behavior and attributes – lighting church
candles on the ritual bread, a prayer and vigil whereby all participants hold candles in their hands,
ritual pouring of wine and water onto the stones in the foundations of the school (during the first
trip, before they placed them in the well, during the second trip the whole ritual was conducted
around the well with the stones). The bread was broken and distributed among everybody,
including among locals who happened to be nearby. It is interesting to note that a new practice of
honouring ancestors was invented in 2011 by the woman organizing the trips. Aiming at making it
more memorable, as she put it, and at engaging every participant in addressing his or her familial
memory, she prepared in advance white pieces of silk with a red ribbon so that all present could
write on them the names of their deceased relatives. During the memorial service these were
woven into one wreath which was placed on the tree next to the well in the village of Bulgarköy
and later on taken to the place where the Bulgarian graveyard used to be.
Some of the functions of the space inherited from the ancestors are being restored.
Repeating the actions of ancestors revitalizes birthplaces. The
dance and song performed in
the village square (which used to be called
in the past) is a clear expression of this line of
ritualized behavior. All descendants join in, they sing old local songs, about the origin of which in
this specific place they also tell stories; the manner in which their hands are joined and the steps
of the dance itself follow the way in which ancestors remembered and reproduced them. The song
and dance create the context for the peculiar doubling which occurs – the participants double the
representatives of their family line and a connection between the generations is established on
their land.
Symbolic investments into material artifacts carried over from the physical reality of
the ancestors are also observed in the ritualized activities of some of the present day compact
communities of Thracian descendants. The participants in the trip (including the mayor) of the
village of Atolovo, Yambol region, carefully prepared for their subsequent commemorative
occasion. Soon after returning, during the organized familial gathering in honour of the ancestors
in the St Dimitar Church they built into the church“relics fromBulgarköy – soil from the native land,
stones from the school under construction in the village, water from the river passing through it”.
3 (20.09.2011).