THE KOUKERI - ANCIENT MASQUERADE TRADITIONS
Here's the course through the eyes of one of our clients - Rick Wallace, an American who at that time worked in Vienna (Austria) and came over especially for our course:
"ELC Ltd offered us a chance to participate in one of the most striking folklore events in Bulgaria called, "KOUKERI". The two stage cross-cultural event began in a cozy hotel in Sofia where a multimedia presentation of the KOUKERI history and tradition was given. We received information about the festivities that mark the end of the winter season and the beginning of the summer cycle of nature's rebirth. We also tried a Bulgarian traditional dance (Horo), and sang KOUKERI related folk songs.
Part two of the training was a cultural trip to a mountain village. We spent an evening in a spa hotel that provided a relaxing alternative to the usual Bulgarian tourist fare. The group enjoyed dinner local people and live music.
The next day, our group had the unique opportunity to accompany village KOUKERI on their rounds of the local houses. We followed the sound of the massive bells worn by the fearfully-masked KOUKERI as they processed to each house and then danced, chanted, and sang ancient rituals to repel the dark forces and bring forth fertility and rich crops during the coming season.
We then witnessed the final rituals in the village square that empowered the Spring Season, inaugurated the new agricultural period and called forth the bright and powerful forces of Mother Nature
ELC's excursion was different from all of my other trips to Bulgaria, in that ELC continually provided detailed English explanations, interpretations and historical information on the rituals, costumes, and activities around us, and allowed us to participate in the festival, rather than just observing it from a distance.