The village of Sadovik is situated in a mountain region, on the southeastern slope of the low mountain Izvorska Mogila. Administratively it belongs to Breznik municipality and is 7 km away from the town.
According to some elderly people in the village, the sirovichkarѐ group exists ever since the Ottoman rule.
A local man brought up in the Surova tradition, recounts: “The biggest masks belong to our village Sadovik, there are no bigger ones! They are made of birds’ feathers and wings. They are quite ‘rich’ and most of them have two faces. The costumes of the sirovichkarѐ are from rags. Once, everyone tried to prepare one’s costume and mask in such a way, that nobody would recognize him while he walked around all day long on Surova.”
He remembers that the Sadovik sirovichkarѐ start gathering and jangling around the village as early as December, between 20 and 25 December. In that way they announce, that Surova is coming soon. First, they are two, three or five persons. One comes from one of the neighborhoods, the other – from another… During the last days, when the feast is closer, they become up to ten or twenty people.
“The Surova is in my blood! When I hear the bells jangling, something gives me strength! I disguised only in two years before my military service – we were ‘bears’ together with a friend of mine. Disguised like that we scared the children. A boy was afraid of us and did not dare to go to school, but when he grew up became the most enthusiastic sirovichkar. He married in Burgas, but up to the last year has not missed coming for Surova to disguise with a mask. He even brought in the luggage-carrier of his car sea gulls’ feathers, which he collected at the seashore during the whole year. There was no bad weather, no cold, no frost. Every year on the evening of 13 January, when I go in the pub to see he has come… I really enjoy it!
Once the village was a big one. The first houses welcomed the sirovichkarѐ at five in the morning. The group could not go around the whole village until five-six in the evening. On 14 January the hosts prepared meat with cabbage, banitsa (cheese pie), loafs of bread. They presented the masked men with money, meat, rakia (brandy), cabbage. The group had a special manager’s company, who carried the buckets and collected the gifts. When the feast is over, up to about a week or two they organize a banquet. They cook meat with cabbage in a couple of cauldrons, light the stove, boil the rakia and gather about 100-150 people. And in the recent years it became a tradition to organize a survakari fair on 2 May in Chukata area.”
Although today the village has less than 100 permanent inhabitants, mainly retired, the masquerade group of Sadovik is one of the most numerous in the region and with the most impressing masks.
Evgeni Skrimov tells with love about one of the most vigorous sirovichkarѐ in the village – Alexander Bankov, who has deceased some years ago. Thanks to his dedicated participation in the masquerade group, thanks to the enthusiasm of all the survakars and of the local people, who maintain Surova in the course of the years, “the tradition continues to this very day…”
Recorded in 2019