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Age-old wedding rites live on in Bulgarian village

Among Bulgaria's rural Pomak minority, there is just one village that keeps traditions alive.

Nestled in the southern snow-capped Rhodope Mountains, Ribnovo rolls back the centuries each winter for workers returning from Europe to tie the knot in extraordinary Muslim weddings.

For Ms Letve Osmanova and Mr Refat Avdikov, both 21, their two-day nuptials start with a display of the bride's dowry - everything from socks and a washing machine to the matrimonial bed - on the street for all to admire.

Two aunts ritually slap a thick layer of white face paint onto the bride's face before sticking on hundreds of colourful sequins to form flowers, AFP reported.

A red veil and streaks of shiny tinsel garlands frame the bride's painted face, making her look more like a doll than a human.

Ms Osmanova keeps her eyes closed throughout the process. Until an imam marries the couple, all she is allowed is a peek at a small hand mirror.

The groom's uncle, Mr Mustafa Avdikov, explains that after the wedding, the husband will take his wife home and wash her face with milk.