Sirishtnik Village

The village of Sirishtnik is in Kovachevtsi municipality and is situated 25 km to the west of Pernik. It is not far from Pchelina dam. In our days, the permanent inhabitants of the village are about 250 people and in 2019, the participants in the survakari group were 70. Some years ago, the group enumerated 100 and more people.

The bolyubashi (the leader of the group) in the village, Ventsislav Georgiev, recounts that he assumed the role of the survakari group’s leader ten years ago. Before that he also masked, but as a bell-wearer. His whole life is connected with Surova; he is reared in the tradition. He started masking when he was 3 years old. His grandfather also masked and continues doing it to this very day.

Part of the masks of the survakari in Sirishtnik in the past, but today as well, are decorated with feathers. They use the feathers of hens, turkeys and ducks for the purpose. In our days, the survakari also manufacture some interesting masks from tree hollows, which they gather in the forest. In the summer, several people every week organize looking for materials. After collecting the hollows, they leave them to dry up during the summer, and starting in the autumn, they process them and prepare their masks.

In the past, the costumes were from old clothes – whatever was at hand. For several decades, the costumes of the Sirishtnik survakari are from rags in the colors of the Bulgarian tricolor – white, green and red.

The survakari gather every year in September, when they decide the roles everyone should play. Usually they change the personages, but for entire 30 years the role of the “bridegroom” is played by one and the same person from the village.

In the evening of 13 January, Sirishtnik survakari organize meetings and visits with the masquerade groups from neighboring villages – Elov Dol, Svetlya, Kovachevtsi, Rakilovtsi. Lobosh. In 2019, in the village center gathered five survakari groups.

Already in the evening of 13 January, the Sirishtnik masquerade group starts visiting people’s homes. They visit half of the houses, and on 14 January continue with the rest of them.

There are people from Sirishtnik, who already do not live in the village and do not come back throughout the whole year, but still they come for Surova every time. The survakari inevitably visit all the houses on the holiday. The people welcome them with meals and gift them with banitsa (cheese pie), rakia (brandy), and money. The raised funds are used for the group’s needs – for substituting some costumes, for purchasing new bells, etc. In the last years, with the money from Surova the survakari manufactured a bus stop with a shelter in the village. They made some tables and around are planted flowers. Now they have a new initiative – to contribute for building a fountain.

Recounting about Surova, the bolyubashi from the village of Sirishtnik says: “This is a very nice tradition in our region. And it will be living in the future as long as there are people who keep ‘disguising’ (masking).”

Recorded in 2019.

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