Stolipinovo Diaries  Plovdiv, Bulgaria  2018 - 2019

"Largest Roma Ghetto of Europe" Between the high apartment buildings built for the public in the communist period are filled with small dwellings and barracks. About 60000 Roma people are living in this neighborhood. It belongs to the second largest city in Bulgaria, Plovdiv. It is a ghetto containing different Roma subcultures who live together and have stories from different languages and religions. A region where ordinary Bulgarian citizens do not want to go. It's like a separate republic.  (pic 1)

A horse carriage is an important tool for Roman society. It is possible to see it everywhere when going out into the neighborhood from the Maritza river, traveling with family in the neighborhood, or cutting the grass of the football field. When we look at the past of the society, the horse carriage and Roman society are inseparable. Life has passed over them. The official flag of Roman society today is also inspired by a car wheel. A spinning red car wheel over blue sky and green nature. (pic 2, 9, 14)

"Bridal walk in the neighborhood" Stolipinovo lack of infrastructure, population density, and limited municipal facilities create a serious health problem. Among them, life continues. The bride and her friends are continuing their marches in a wedding ceremony on the street.  (pic 3)

"Traveling to the Maritza River for a wish" Hanife and Sengul are two young girls who speak Turkish. On the night of Ederlezi, they are going to take water from the Maritza River to make a wish. In this tradition called "Martofal", young girls throw their little belongings into the water they bring on the evening of Ederlezi and wait to realize. (pic 4)

"Memories of Ederlezi" Ederlezi is an important cultural event for the people of Roma all over the world. Different names and rituals in different regions, though, does not change its importance. On the morning of Ederlezi in Stolipinovo, families can walk together to the river of Maritza passing through the neighborhood with their special clothes.  (pic 6)

"Neighbor visit" On the day of Ederlezi, a small baby of a family is kidnapped. The baby's family sets off with food, various drinks, a sheep and music to get it back. After having a meal together at home, the baby is brought back home.  (pic 7)

Part of the community living in the neighborhood is affiliated with the Christian Evangelist Church. They gather together in church on Sunday and perform their religious duties accompanied by music. (pic 9)

"The day of peace" On the one side of the neighborhood, a subculture of Romans called Burgucu live, usually working in iron. According to other Romans, they have a better standard of living. In this region, the family of a girl who was pregnant before marriage and the family of the boy held a reconciliation ceremony before the wedding in order to remove the hostility between them. In this event, where the Roma musicians participated with their traditional instruments, the families displayed their wealth.  (pic 11)

Burgucu people, a Roman sub-group, live in a part of the neighborhood. Blacksmithing is their main profession. In small workshops, they make simple agricultural tools and horseshoes by beating iron using traditional methods. (pic 13)

Some Christian Roman groups celebrate their new year called Bango Vasil on January 14th. This also applies to societies that have adopted the Julian calendar. An important element of these celebrations in the neighborhood is a rooster. There was once a severe plague epidemic and many children died. Bango Vasil advised the mothers to mark the cross in front of their house doors with the blood of a rooster. This is how the plague epidemic ended. In the area where Burgucu Roma lives in the neighborhood, a rooster is given to a person with a lottery during celebrations and it is considered sacred and not slaughtered.  (pic 16)