SUROVA in Kosharevo

Every year between 13-th and 14-th of January, Surovashkari start going around in Graovo. For this day the participants have made preparations throughout the year – to make the masks, to determine the order of visiting the houses. Wherever they meet, they are always asking each other: „Shall we go to see the brides?“.  The most prominent of all the participants in a group is the  “bolijubashia” – he is a man of authority and merits. He is responsible for the order and the masks. He is dressed in a special uniform and holds in his hand a wooden, but more often, an authentic old saber. He always has a whistle by which he maintains the order and tells when tells when the Surovashkar group should ring their bells to warn that they are coming. The Surovashkars go from house to house and say their blessings – for a heavy crop of wheat, against cattle murrain. People, on the other hand, donate them richly with meat, pottage, lard (bacon), heated brandy (rakia) and money. They do not visit only the houses where someone has recently died. Everyone awaits the Survakar group with impatience. The order is this – the newlyweds are first, followed by the priest, who sprinkles with water every house, then come the father-in-law and the mother-in-law, the bear-ward with the bear and the old men come last. The group is accompanied by a drum. There must be a drum  because it creates mood and, together with the bell ringing, contributes to the unique atmosphere. There is something magical in the air, inexplicable in words, and he who once joins the group, never gives up. The participants say the world behind the mask looks different. No matter how heavy the bells and faces are, the masked people do not feel the weight, they are light to the soul and seem to be in a parallel world. In all Graovo villages, as an end of the game, there is a fire, around which everyone plays, the joy is indescribable and all-around,  and everybody – old men or young men play folk dances (horo). Guests from other villages gather around the fire, because nowadays the groups are twinning and visiting each other. It’s even better that there are also groups consisting of  children and more frequently women are involved in the games – something absolutely forbidden in the past. In the night before Surva, nobody sleeps. The Survakar groups should never miss a house because it’s considered a bad omen. All young men in the village – single or married – join the group. It’s rare for anyone not be involved in Surva. Afterwards, the whole village will be asking him why he did not play. The young ladies will decide that there is something wrong with him, so he has not come out. If the group meets a young men who has not disguised and has not joined them, they will just push him to the ground and he is not allowed even to watch them. As young men are in the village – bachelor or married, everyone is in the group. It’s rare for anyone to play on Raw. The whole village will ask him why he did not play. The girls will think he has something, so he has not come out. If a group encounters a young man who has not dressed and is not with them, it will push him, throw him down on the ground, and even do not allow him to watch them.