Bulgarian Mayor: 'Dog Spinning' Ritual Harmless Folklore, Not Barbarian!

Society | March 9, 2011, Wednesday // 13:25
Bulgaria: Bulgarian Mayor: 'Dog Spinning' Ritual Harmless Folklore, Not Barbarian! Bulgarian PM Borisov has condemned the practice of a pagan ritual known as "dog spinning" still surviving in the southeastern village of Brodilovo. After it was banned in 2005, the ritual was performed again on March 6, 2011. (pictured). Photo by Webcafe

The "dog spinning" ritual practiced in a southeastern Bulgarian village is misinterpreted by the society and the international community, according to Tsarevo Municipality Mayor Petko Arnaudov.

In dog spinning, which is practiced in Brodilovo, a southeastern Bulgarian village, at the beginning of March, a dog is suspended above water on a rope.

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.

After it was banned by Mayor Arnaudov in February 2006, on Saturday, March 6, the ritual was performed again by Brodilovo.

Dog spinning – or trichane, as locals call it - is now practiced only in Brodilovo. In 2005, the foreign media found out about the tradition and the world was outraged by its cruelty. Bulgarian animal welfare organizations also stood firmly against it.

Speaking on BNT Wednesday, Arnaudov spoke in favor of finding some kind of formula that preserves the folklore tradition while observing contemporary European norms of animal treatment.

He did make a case that the dog spinning is not "dog hanging" as it has already been presented by international media, and that the dogs are technically not hurt physically during its performance.

"Nobody is killing or hurting the dogs. They are brought by their owners who love them in order to take part in this folklore ritual, which is meant to cleanse the local community of evil and to generate fertility. The dogs are spun for about 15-20 seconds, and then they fall in the water, which amounts to bathing them," Arnaudov said.

He believes that the locals restored the tradition because they were looking for some kind of hope in their extremely wretched economic situation, which was recently worsened by the outbreak of foot and mouth disease brought to the region by wild animals coming from Turkey a couple of months ago.

Arnaudov refuted the arguments that the ritual stimulates violence – unlike the violence on TV and in Hollywood movies. He also said the village of Brodilovo had not produced a single criminal, and its people were extremely hard-working and just cherishing folklore traditions.

The mayor did say that he banned the ritual back in 2006 acting out of concern for Bulgaria's national interests, i.e. because of the negative publicity that Bulgaria would receive if the ritual is allowed to continue. He called for discussing the ritual publicly from all aspects in order to find a compromise.

In the local community, the dog spinning ritual gives the start of a local Kukeri tradition each year; Bulgaria's is generally enjoying international renown for its Kukeri (or mummers) customs.

Many of the folklore traditions of Southeastern Bulgaria dating back to pagan times are world-renowned for their uniqueness - such as the fire-dancing or nestinarstvo, which is practiced only in this region.

Locals have explained that the ritual was brought to their village several generations ago when their ancestors, ethnic Bulgarians from Asia Minor in today's Turkey, settled there.

On Tuesday, the dog spinning was denounced by Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov.

A video of the dog spinning - or trichane - ritual performed on March 6, 2011, in Brodilovo is available HERE

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Tags: dog spinning, dog, Boyko Borisov, brodilovo, ritual, animal cruelty, Petko Arnaudov, Tsarevo, Southeastern Bulgaria, fmd, foot-and-mouth disease
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