Ukrainians Clash with Locals over Bulgarian Dog Spinning Ritual
Ukrainian and Bulgarian environmentalists have got into a scuffle with locals in a southeastern Bulgarian village over a controversial ritual performed there every year.
Dozens of people have arrived in the Brodilovo village in the Strandzha mountains, led by an environmentalist organization and handing out stuffed toy dogs to locals, according to the Bulgarian National Radio.
However, some of the residents have argued no-one has the right to interfere with local traditions.
The environmentalists seek to demonstrate the ritual could also be performed using stuffed toys instead of torturing live animals.
Locals in turn are bent on performing it despite a ban issued by authorities in Tsarevo, the municipal center.
The so-called "trichane" is normally performed in the days around Sirni zagovezni, the Bulgarian name for a Slavic carnival that marks the run-up to Easter.
Participants tie a dog to a rope and spin it above a nearby lake, drawing anger from environmentalists who condemn the practice as an act of animal cruelty.
The dog is turned repeatedly in a given direction to wind the rope, then released so that it spins rapidly in the opposite direction as the rope unwinds, until the dog falls into the water. The locals claim that the dog is not supposed to be physically hurt.
This ancient ritual of pagan origin is performed in order to prevent rabies and is a part of the traditional Kukeri rituals.
It was popular mostly in Southern and Eastern Bulgaria, but also in some central parts. Similar rites exist in parts of Romania and Greece.
In Brodilovo, where the tradition is still alive, it is celebrated in the first day of Lent. Elsewhere, "trichane" it also goes by other names.
Over previous years, locals have tried to "soften" the ritual to appease activists.
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