Lifestyle & Belief

Bulgaria: Brides for sale

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Several thousand Kalaidzhii meet in Mogila, Bulgaria on March 12, 2011. Young marriageable girls dress elaborately to attract the best young men, who traditionally pay between 5,000 and 40,000 Bulgarian Lev ($3,500 to $28,000) for a bride.

Credit:

Jodi Hilton

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    The Kalaidzhii Gypsies hold an annual bride market in the village of Mogila, Bulgaria, 150 miles east of the capital, Sofia. Ivanka Georgieva, 21, applies makeup as she readies herself to meet her match on March 12, 2011.

    Credit:

    Jodi Hilton

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    The most beautiful young virgin girls can fetch up to 40,000 Bulgarian Lev ($28,000) for their families at the annual bride market held by Kalaidzhii Gypsies, also known as Roma. The 2011 bride market was held on March 12 in Mogila, Bulgaria.

    Credit:

    Jodi Hilton

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    The Kalaidzhii Gypsies number about 20,000 but are spread among the villages of Bulgaria. Their annual meeting in Mogila, held on March 12, 2011, offers the youth a chance to meet each other and search for a mate. The Kalaidzhii traditionally do not marry outside the group.

    Credit:

    Jodi Hilton

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    The meeting in Mogila, Bulgaria on March 12, 2011 is a chance for families to catch up on each others' news. The Kalaidzhii, who work in tin, lining copper pots or making gutters, are spread throughout Bulgaria and often travel during the summer months.

    Credit:

    Jodi Hilton

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    During the Kalaidzhii Gypsies' annual meeting and bride market on March 12, 2011, families picnic on a field that normally serves as a livestock market. Light skin and blue eyes are most prized by families seeking matches for their sons, but they also considered a woman's ability to help the family earn money.

    Credit:

    Jodi Hilton

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    Two sisters, Minka Koleva, 19, left, and Donka Koleva, 16, at the annual meeting of the Kalaidzhii Gypsies on March 12, 2011. At the annual meeting, young women dress up to attract mates, who tradition requires to pay a large sum of money to the bride's family.

    Credit:

    Jodi Hilton

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    Marriageable girls and boys danced the "horo" at the annual meeting of the Kalaidzhii Gypsies in central Bulgaria on March 12, 2011.

    Credit:

    Jodi Hilton

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    Kalaidzhii Gypsies from around Bulgaria enjoy unseasonably warm weather and a festive atmosphere during at the annual bride market and meeting held on March 12, 2011.

    Credit:

    Jodi Hilton

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    Several thousand Kalaidzhii meet in Mogila, Bulgaria on March 12, 2011. Young marriageable girls dress elaborately to attract the best young men, who traditionally pay between 5,000 and 40,000 Bulgarian Lev ($3,500 to $28,000) for a bride.

    Credit:

    Jodi Hilton

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    A Kalaidzhii Gypsy couple at the group's annual meeting in Mogila, Bulgaria on March 12, 2011. Some young men voiced their objections to the bride price (generally $3,500 to $28,00), which makes it difficult for poor men to marry inside their caste.

    Credit:

    Jodi Hilton

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    "I love him," said Atanaska Vedkova, 17, of her boyfriend Georgi Petkov, 20, who she met up with at the March 12, 2011 annual meeting of the Kalaidzhii, a subset of Gypsies whose 20,000 members are dispersed throughout Bulgaria.

    Credit:

    Jodi Hilton

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    The sun sets at the annual Kalaidzhii (Gypsy) bride market and meeting on March 12, 2011 in Mogila, Bulgaria.

    Credit:

    Jodi Hilton