Wedding customs of the Turks in Bulgaria

For Muslims, marriage is a strictly regulated contract between a man and a woman, and this is stated in the Koran. The Turks regard it as a sacred union, but there is no religious ceremony. In the past, before the wedding, the boy and the girl did not know each other. Therefore, the role of parents was very big. The initiative was always in the hands of the boy’s father. They examined and studied the girls and their parents, usually at weddings in their own and neighboring villages.

They relied heavily on referrals from people who knew the family. When he settled on a girl, the boy’s parents sent a messenger – a “gyoryudzhu” /watcher/ to find out if the parents were willing to give her.

It is not like that nowadays. On an agreed date, the boy and his family visit the girl’s house. She serves her parents and the boy’s parents coffee with sugar. However, she gives her future husband a cup of coffee seasoned with salt. The groom is expected to drink his coffee without making any facial expressions. If he succeeds, then he really wants the girl. After the coffee is drunk, the boy’s father asks for the hand of the girl for his son with the following: “By the of Allah and the permission of the Prophet Mohammed, we want your daughter /name/ for our son /name/.” At the end of the ritual, the two families exchange compliments, place rings on the newlyweds and choose a date for the wedding. From that moment on, they call the young “nishanli” /marked/. A “bohcha” of clothes, shoes and cosmetics is made and exchanged between the betrothed.

In the period between the engagement and the wedding, the girl works diligently on her “ceyiz” – (clothes, textile, cosmetics, household items and etc.).

There is no wedding between two Eids, but during this period the fiancé sent his fiancée a ram for sacrifice with a henna on the head and an ornament on the forehead.

Weddings in Bulgaria usually take place in the summer. On the eve of the wedding, the girl’s house has a henna night, and the boy’s has a hangover party.

The party at the girl’s is a farewell to relatives and friends, it is a bachelorette party attended only by women – friends and maidens in their best makeover. The “henna” is given the first night by the girl’s mother, and the second – by the mother-in-law.

The evening begins with dancing. The girl /fiancée/ stands, and opposite her, her friends take turns dancing one after the other. The order is monitored and observed by an older, married woman, a relative of the fiancee, who also mixes the henna in a vessel, in the middle of which there is a lighted candle. This henna rite begins when the groom /boy/ arrives with his friends and family. The girlfriends sing sad farewell songs and cry because the next day the girl will leave her house and go to live in her fiancé’s house. The mother-in-law first slowly rubs the girl’s hands, placing a gold coin in her palm, because the girl does not open her palms until this coin is placed in her hand. Girlfriends also put henna on their hands.

Two days before the wedding, in a room in the bride’s home, they spread out the entire “ceyiz”. Women from the whole village come to watch it and judge it in terms of quantity and quality. The groom and his friends and family leave to pick up the bride. First, the groom’s car arrives in front of the bride’s house by honking the horn. The groom has to fill her left shoe with money, and is met at the door by the bride’s sibling, saying the door won’t open and asking for money to let him in. During this time, the mother-in-law sprinkles the yard with small money and candy, somewhere – and rice – for fertility and a sweet life. When the money is enough, they allow the groom to enter to bride and the Hodzha arrives too, who, in the presence of two witnesses, performs the marriage according to Islamic laws. After that everyone go to the wedding hall to celebrate and to dance.

After the wedding they go to the home of the groom. At the neighborhood, children are waiting for them, who quickly run home to announce that the wedding is coming. The mother-in-law rushes forward to meet the daughter-in-law. At the gate, the bride kisses their hands. The mother-in-law again threw coins, wheat and candies. Then she gives her two loaves of bread, a bowl of water, and anoints her fingers with oil to anoint the upper threshold of the door. The mother-in-law feeds the bride with various tastes.

They take the bride to the room that has been designated for her. There they give her a male child in her arms, she rolls him several times on the bed. They take the child out and bring in the groom and leave him alone with the bride.

On the next day, the bride kisses the hand of her father-in-law and mother-in-law, and they present her with gold coins or money. During this time, some neighbors come to look at the new house and the “ceyiz”. This custom is called “duvak”. The bride donates towels, those who come to watch the “ceyiz”. On the second evening, the bride’s relatives come to visit her new home. They are served with coffee and sherbet, then with a rich dinner. The following days, the groom takes the bride to visit his relatives to get to know them for seven days every evening.