Nestinarstvo – The Bulgarian Fire Dance
Nestrinarstvo is an amazing fiery ritual originally performed in several villages of the Bulgarian side of the Strandzha Mountain, near the Black Sea coast. The ritual involves dance barefoot on the broken coals (Aravena, cinders) performing Nestinari (Nestinari). It is generally performed in the village square in front of the whole regiment on St. Constantine and Helena, or on the day of the patron saint of the village. The ritual itself is a unique blend of orthodox beliefs and prehistoric pagan ritual observance of Strandzha Mountain.
Although fire dancing is associated with perennial ritual practices, its peak time is on 3 June, when Bulgarians celebrate the day of St. Constantine and St. Helena (old calender). These saints are considered patrons of fire dancers. On the day of the holiday ritual icons of both patrons are covered with special decoration and, with a solemn procession, they are brought to a spring and sprayed with holy water. In the evening the dancers, led by the Churchwarden, head to the chapel of St. Constantine, where they incense, light candles and pray before the icons.
Meanwhile the coils are prepared at the square of the village. A large fire is set at noon and is maintained until the evening. After that the accumulated coals are spread in the form of a regular circle, where the villagers gather later. When it gets dark, the dancers, accompanied by a drummer and a bagpiper, head to the 7 TRADITIONS, CRAF
At the source of the each holy water wells there are candles for good health. The highlight of the festival is a fiery dance evening, which is the highest form of worship of saints.
Then they silently form a circle around the embers, accompanied by the sacred drum, and Nestinari, spiritual and physical leaders through which saints speak are beginning to enter the circle bare feet breaking the firebrand
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