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Pesponedelnik - Kukers in Shiroka Laka

Guest rooms "Vasilka"

The traditional Kuker gathering Pesponedelnik takes place in Shiroka Laka every year on the first Sunday of March.

The "pesyaks" of Shiroka Laka are a group of masked men in suits (usually youths). This group or command has a "chief", a "bride" ("song bride" or "granny") and a few "pesyaks" ("pesyak oldies"). All of them except the "bride" have masks (suryets) on, which are made of whole sheep skins with the wool on the outside. The skins are placed on the face and have two holes cut off for the eyes and one for the mouth. There are red circles sewn around the holes to draw attention to the eyes and the mouth. Some of them put onion skins in their mouth, which look like large and scary teeth. To make the face look more manly it gets a beard and moustaches sewn onto it. Some kukers put ram, goat or ox horns on the mask which had been made this way.

Another characteristic feature of the appearance of the pesyaks are the large humps, which are made by placing pillows, rags or straw under the clothes. These humps make the "oldies" look more realistic.

All pesyaks are "armed" with sabres painted in red, which are called "spatilkas". Each of them wears "tatralkas" (sheep bells).

The chief looks the same as the other pesyaks. He is in charge of the rest, he determines the penalties for the caught "kidnappers" of the "bride" and takes special care of her protection.

The "bride" is the wife of the chief. Her role is played by a boy or a man dressed in the traditional female dress for Shiroka Laka: valnenik, klashnik, belt and a head scarf. She wears a distaff in her belt and spins on her way.

The pesyaks go from house to house in order to drive away the evil and to bring health and a good harvest. If a pesyak jumps over you, you will be lucky the whole year. After finishing their round-up of the houses, the pesyaks go the village square ("kupishte") where they present a marriage ritual between the bride and the chief as well as birth, tillage, seeding. The pesyaks of Shiroka Laka are part of the "oldies" group in terms of content and features. This group encompasses the area up to Karlovo in the north and east and Panagyurishte and Momina Klisura in the west. They are particularly similar to the customs south of Plovdiv - around Blagoevgrad.

Pesponedelnik - Video