Podcast in English
Text size
Bulgarian National Radio © 2023 All Rights Reserved

Kukeri from Voynyagovo village demonstrate their skills in India

Photo: Vasil Levski-1900 chitalishte, Voynyagovo

Some of the members of the band of kukeri from the Vasil Levski-1900 chitalishte (community culture club) in Voynyagovo village are to present Bulgaria at a reception at the Bulgarian embassy in Delhi to mark this country’s national day, 3 March. The invitation was extended by Bulgaria’s Ambassador to India H.E. Eleonora Dimitrova, and the event is to take place with the financial support of the Bulgarian Ministry of Culture. 

The group will demonstrate the spectacular Bulgarian ritual, Voynyagovo style, of banishing evil spirits and welcoming good, light, new life, a new beginning. 
Kukeri have never before performed in India, these will be the first,” says Tsonka Damyanova, chitalishte secretary. “In Voynyagovo, the kukeri celebrate Starchovden – a festival of fertility. In our village the ritual is mostly connected with the warmth and comfort of home, with the family getting together, after which the whole village pours out into the village square to sing and dance while the kukeri perform their dances for health and a bountiful harvest.”
The kukeri from Voynyagovo are among the most colourful masquerade groups in Bulgaria. Their costumes stand out among all others in the region of Karlovo in Central Bulgaria, and the most impressive part is the headgear - it is high, made of wood and adorned with all kinds of tassels, beads, pieces of fabric, all in different colours. 

But there is one element that is mandatory – mirrors which are believed to banish the devil and evil. The costume also features a black mask. As all kukeri, they too wear bells around their waists. 
“One element that sets Voynyagovo kukeri apart is that they use a whip that is made of sheepskin with a silk-entwined rim. This whip has to be twirled in a specific way to make it crack. To twirl the whip, you need special skills. That is one more thing that sets out kukeri apart from all others,” says Tsonka Damyanova, in an interview with Radio Bulgaria’s Desislava Semkovska. 
The kukeri from Voynyagovo have taken part in masquerade games throughout Bulgaria, but also in France, Poland, North Macedonia, Serbia. In 2017 they won the Golden Mask grand prix at the Surva festival in Pernik. 
“The amateurs from Voynyagovo wear authentic traditional costumes which are more than 100 years old and are passed down from generation to generation,” Tsonka Damyanova says. “Since 2021 the folklore group at the chitalishte has represented Plovdiv region in the Living Human Treasures – Bulgaria programme of the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. We have many authentic songs, horo dances, rituals, masquerade games.”
"At the reception at the embassy in India, the kukeri will also perform rituals connected with one more spring folklore festival – Baba (Granny) Martha," Tsonka Damyanova adds. "They will take with them, as a gift for India, the typically Bulgarian martenitsas, and will hand them out for health and luck.”

Photos: Vasil Levski-1900 chitalishte, Voynyagovo
Listen to the daily news from Bulgaria presented in "Bulgaria Today" podcast, available in Spotify.

More from category

20th International Festival "Children of the Balkans" will gather 2,000 participants

Nearly 2,000 children and guests from Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Moldova, North Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro will participate on May 31 and June 1 in the 20th anniversary International Children's Ethno-Festival "Children of the Balkans - with..

published on 5/31/23 6:10 AM

In Strandzha, everyone sings in harmony with nature

‎"Folklore gives us the most generous gifts - strength, health, love and comfort," ‎says Bulgarian folk singer Zlatka Stavreva. Known among connoisseurs as the ‎‎"white swallow of Strandzha", she tirelessly conveys to young people her love ‎for songs..

published on 4/28/23 9:50 AM

The largest Bulgarian folklore festival in North America starts

37 ensembles from 14 U.S. states and 7 dance groups from Canada will participate in the largest Bulgarian folklore festival in North America - "Verea". Its 13th edition starts on April 27 with a screening of the film "Kaval Park", but..

published on 4/27/23 2:40 PM