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Nestinarstvo, Messages from the Past: the Panagyr of Saints Constantine and Helena in the village of Bulgari


Language: English

The Nestinarstvo fire-dancing rite is the climax of the annual Panagyr ritual on the feast days of Saints Constantine and Helena (3 and 4 June) in the village of Bulgari, in the Mount Strandzha region of south-east Bulgaria. The ritual is held to ensure the well-being and fertility of the village. In the morning, consecrated and ceremonial rituals are solemnized and a procession with the sacred icons representing the two Saints travels outside the village to a spring with holy water, accompanied by drum and bagpipes. At the spring, holy water and candles are handed out to everyone present for good health. The festival culminates in a fire-dance in the evening as the highest form of veneration of the Saints. People silently form a circle around the burning embers led by the sacred drum, and the Nestinari, who are spiritual and physical leaders through whom the saints express their will, begin entering the circle and treading the embers. Formerly celebrated in some thirty nearby Bulgarian and Greek villages, Nestinarstvo remains today in Bulgari, a village of only a hundred persons. During the Panagyr, however, thousands crowd the village, including in recent years many Greeks who join the ritual.

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Topics and Tags
Place/region: Bulgaria, Europe
Series: 2009 Inscriptions on the Representative List
Type: Documentary
Extract: 10 min. Total length:
Production and personalities:
Director: Mila Santova, Yavor Bobev, Bocho Bochev, Stoyan Bobev, MIvailo Tchilingirian Published in:
Rights: Bulgaria. Ministry of Culture
 

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Original: DVD
Location: EV only
UMVS reference: AVFONDS-CLTITH-2009-0019100007
Source ref.: DOC:00508-EN, CAND:00191
Rights holder: UNESCO ; Bulgaria. Ministry of Culture