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Медвежьи танцы в Румынии, которые должны отогнать злых духов. ФОТО

Для человека постороннего зрелище танцующих в маленьком румынском городке медведей с большими алыми кисточками может показаться дико странным. Однако для жителей этого местечка приход медведей — время радоваться.


Обычно это случается между Рождеством и Новым годом. В этот раз мистическую церемонию с участием людей в медвежьих шкурах запечатлел нью-йоркский фотограф Диана Зейнеб Альхиндави.


Женщины и мужчины в костюмах медведей шествуют по улицам городка Мойнешти. Их сопровождают барабанщики. Танцоры хорошо проводят время и расслабляются — курят сигареты, пьют алкоголь и даже целуются. Танец медведей по идее должен отогнать злых духов.


Each winter in the rural Moldova region of Romania, locals dressed in bearskins gather in troupes to perform dances to drive away evil spirits. In 2014, New York-based photographer <a href="http://www.dianazeynebalhindawi.com/" target="_blank">Diana Zeyneb Alhindawi</a> captured the annual festivities.

Alhindawi, who is half-Romanian, lived in Moinesti until she was eight and recalls the bear dancing fondly. She says despite appearances, it's a joyous time of celebration -- but one that's dying out as hard times force young people to leave the area.

Dumitru Toloaca, leader of a bear troupe from Laloaia village, marches through the alleys of Asau village.  He's followed closely by his "bear tamer" and "bears," whom he guides to private homes where they've been invited to perform.

The bear dancing has its roots in an old forest Gypsy practice of bringing bears to towns. Residents would pay the Gypsies, also known as Roma, to let bear cubs walk on their backs to cure backaches.

Older bears would be made to "dance" on hot metal plates. At some time in the last century, use of live bears was replaced by people wearing bearskins.

Although in the minority, female bears can be found in nearly every troupe. Alhindawi's links to the area helped her gain candid access to the dancers.

Alhindawi says in some towns, competitions have been organized to help keep the traditions alive.

Catalin Apetroaie chats with a young bear and the "bear tamer" seated on his porch. They and the rest of the troupe have just finished performing for a family and are taking a rest before they continue on to the homes of other patrons.

A female bear plays with the young son of Catalin Apetroaie, a bear himself. The child's grandmother scurries by while his great-grandmother peers from inside the house.

Catalin Apetroaie serves his fellow bears pig fat while his wife fills up glasses of homemade palinka liquor.

In the days leading up to New Year's, troupes of bears dance their way into the night, traveling by van through a handful of towns and villages in the Trotus Valley.

While the tradition originated with the Roma, Alhindawi says they've since been priced out of the practice. A ban on bear hunting means bearskins now fetch up to €2,000, and most Gypsies have sold theirs.

Between visits to private homes where they've been invited to perform, a troupe of bears stops at a bar.

At the end of each night, bearskins hang from hooks on the ceiling of a front porch.





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