Selishten Dol Village

The village of Selishten Dol is situated in the central part of Graovo, at the foot of Cherna Gora Mountain and 14 km away from Pernik.

A document, preserved in the archive of the Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Studies with Ethnographic Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, contains the information about Surova in Selishten Dol, recounted some years ago by Velin Damyanov. He shares, that a week or two before St. Basil’s Day the survakars went out in Tsarvena Glava locality and “jangled” their bells. The jangling took place without masks. Then started also the negotiations about the roles everyone was going to play in the masquerade – who was going to be “bolyukbashia” (leader), “bride”, “bridegroom”, “brothers-in-law”, “sisters-in-law”, who were going to be “mechkare” (bear keepers). Every one of the participants made his own mask secretly. It should be made in such a way that he should not be recognized.

“In the evening before Basil (St. Basil’s Day) all participants gather at the “Kolibite” (the huts) in Tsarvena Glava locality. They disguise there. They gather about 20-30 persons. Forty years ago, only bachelors played, but then side by side started playing all (men, women, children), especially today. When they disguise, they start “embattled”. Ahead is the “bolyukbashia” with a wooden sword in his hand. After him comes the “procession”. First are the “father-in-law” and the “mother-in-law”. Then come the “bride” and the “bridegroom”. Along with them comes a “priest” and a “doctor”. After them, “bear keeper with a bear”. At the end of the “procession” are the “gypsies”. The “gypsy man” carries on his shoulder a yarn-beam and shoots with it as if with a rifle. The “gypsy woman” is a disguised man. He carries in his hands swaddled “baby” and begs, “wants gifts for the young couple”. In the past, they brought along with the “procession” a real donkey. The mechkare first visit the neighboring villages. When they come back in Selishten Dol, they start from the right end, from the south side of the village, and enter every house.”

Until today, the tradition of Surva games is living in Selishten Dol. Every year in the night of 13 before 14 January, the magic of Surova becomes alive. In the evening of 13 January, the masquerade group meets survakars from some neighboring settlements on the square of the village, and on 14 January, the masked visit the houses and bless everybody for good health and prosperity.

Archive of the Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Studies with Ethnographic Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences