Dragichevo Village

The village of Dragichevo is situated in the southwestern slope of Luylin Mountain and is a starting point for the Rudartsi resort and for the Selimitsa Ridge of Vitosha Mountain. Administratively it belongs to Pernik municipality and is not far from the capital Sofia. It is located around the railway track Sofia–Pernik.

Many children and youths participate in the survakars group of the village. A young girl recounts that since her childhood she shares the experience of Surova. Her father is the standard-bearer of the survakars group in the village, and her uncle masks in the group of Yardzhilovtsi. Some of her other relatives put masks as well. One of the urges, which stirred her enthusiasm, were the Dragichevo survakars themselves, who on the feast visited also the school in the village.

“When I was a schoolgirl, they visited the school. Inside they went along the corridors and jangled. It was a great emotion! We commented with friends then, that one day we would also like to be part of them.”

Thus, some years ago Vanesa Viktorova joined the survakars group – first, she took part in the “wedding” ritual, and in the last 4–5 years disguises with a costume, mask and bells.

“When I started to disguise, at first I thought that the mask is not for me. It was not interesting for me. I wasgrandmother”. One year, for instance, on the festival in the village of Mramor we won a prize for personage together with the “grandfather”. We were so involved in the characters… I was so stooped, that afterwards I had pains in my back. When I was younger, I wanted to be more fascinating – to be among the people, to make jokes with them. When I grew up however, I realized that Surova is actually the “wedding ceremony” and the bell-wearers. On a festival, I saw a man, who looked imposing. When he jumped, he made such a noise, that I had the feeling that the earth beneath me is shaking. I was very impressed. And on the next year I decided to be part of the bell-wearers. I prepared a costume. While preparing it with my grandmother, I was impatient and all the time repeated: ‘Well, isn’t it about to be ready?!’ I was like the little children, and was impatient to put it on and to see how it suits me. It was very nice! I put bells as well. When once I dressed like that, somehow it became part of me. I started taking care of the costume. Every year I am careful not to damage it. We also preserve the bells very well. The masks and the bells belong to the culture house (chitalishte), and they are kept there. For a second year, I disguise with the same mask. About two months before January, we gather in the culture house and renovate the masks. Every year when the local feast passes, some parts of the masks start falling apart – the feathers come down, the laths brake, something may be torn. And especially after the festival, the masks are rather damaged.”

Vanesa shares her opinion about the participation of women and children in the survakars groups:

“There are many girls in the group; there are many children as well. We are very pleased with that, all of us. The youngest children are 4-years old. A young girl, her name is Bozhidara, every year disguises with us, she has a costume, she has bells. It doesn’t matter if it is winter, if it is snowing, if it is raining, if there are puddles, if there is mud. That child is always with the group. There are some more little children – Deyan, Izabela, they are many…, I would not enumerate them all… Yes, I agree, that in the past the custom was men’s (bachelor’s), but in our time I do not see anything wrong if everybody participates. In the long run, tradition will remain alive only if everybody has an access to it – from the child to the oldest one, from a boy to a girl. I cannot imagine, that a child would like to participate in the group and we would say “no” just because somebody does not agree. Men and women, old and young – all of us hand in hand maintain Surova. And tomorrow our children will transfer that tradition.

In the eve of the feast, in the village we are like bees, every one brings something, every one works something. We are overwhelmed by such a nice panic. And when we enter the culture house, and when we look at the masks… The very preparation, the very January “smells” of Surova. The whole of January is Surova! It is very nice!

This is my emotion – Surova! I can tell you what the feeling is, but it should be experienced. It is an emotion, the way it is with love! When Surova is over, I feel somewhat empty. I miss it. I want it to come again!”

Recorded in 2019