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The centuries-old wedding traditions of a Kosovo village

Donje Ljubinje, Kosovo, Aug 17 (EFE).- Sellma Demirovic’s big day has arrived.

Like her three sisters, this bride-to-be has chosen to have a traditional wedding.

Nestled in the Shar mountains that form the border between Kosovo and North Macedonia is Donje Ljubinje, a village with some 3,000 residents, 60% of whom have left their hometown to make a living elsewhere in Europe.

Sellma’s wedding day is not only a special day for the bride and groom, but for the many residents who live abroad and return to Donje Ljubinje in August for the summer holidays.

The vibrant wedding is a spectacle for the village residents and has become a unique symbol of Donje Ljubinje’s identity.

The night before the big day, the women of the village perform traditional dances in front of the bride’s house before she appears in a traditional costume, with her face covered, to greet her guests on her last night as a single woman.

As custom dictates, Sellma spends the first part of her wedding day in her room with family and friends while guests enjoy the roughly 700 different servings of traditional food in the center of the village.

This is when Aziza Sefitagic arrives to paint the bride’s face, one of the main traditions of a Donje Ljubinje wedding.

Helped by other women, Sellma lies down on her bed and closes her eyes. The next time she opens them will be to dance with the groom.

Aziza, who has been painting faces for weddings since 1970, when she inherited the practice from her mother-in-law, paints the bride’s face with drawings of the sun, circles and triangles, representing symbols that date back to paganism.

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