Wives on sale: Strange market where prospective brides are dressed provocatively

Wife on sale
  • The Romani people have a unique marriage tradition – a ‘bride market’
  • The market is held four times a year where families in the community arrange financially beneficial marriages for their children
  • The prospective brides are usually dressed provocatively in miniskirts

The Romani people, who constitute one of Bulgaria’s (Europe) largest ethnic minorities, have a unique marriage tradition – a ‘bride market’.

Held four times a year. The market is a chance for poor families in the community to arrange financially beneficial marriages for their children, Vagabong Bulgaria reports.

The bride market is a chance for these families to get together, catch up on gossip, and arrange matches for their adolescent children.

The market is held four times a year

The prospective brides are usually dressed provocatively in miniskirts, with gobs of mascara, flashy jewellery and towering heels.

They dance alongside their male suitors, which is quite rare in a community that generally does not allow youths to mingle with the opposite sex.

In fact, the Kalaidzhi, who are devout Christians, take girls out of school at age 15 to keep them away from temptation. Would you believe that?

Girls and boys stand separately in groups, occasionally shaking hands and checking each other out.

The parents, acting as chaperones, prefer to stay out of their way in the background. As the kids get to know each other better, the party gets wilder, with couples dancing on top of cars in front of an audience.

The market is held four times a year

 “I want to find someone who is easy to get along with,” says Hristova, 19, who attended a market last year. “ I want someone whose parents won’t interfere after we are together, and someone who’s not too rich and not too poor and has a job.”

If a boy and a girl really begin to take a liking for each other, the adults then step in to negotiate.

The cost of a bride can be anywhere between 5,000 and 10,000 leva (Sh256,888 and Sh917,460). The prices have dropped in recent years, as jobs have dried up and families are tight on cash. But a ‘very beautiful’ woman with many suitors can supposedly still command a higher price.

“We are maintaining the morals of the children by marrying them off at a young age,” said Kosta Kostov, a spectator at the fair. “If she’s not a virgin, the bride’s family has to give the money back.”

 


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