The custom of “Arapides”

One of the many customs of Pagoneri is the one of "Arapides" that comes to life on the day of the Epiphany. "Arapides" are disguised men in top-to-toe goatskins, who wear a mask with three holes for the eyes and mouth, and flat, hard-soled tsarouchia, have bells adorning their waists, and hold wooden swords and ash in their hands. A man plays the role of the “Bride”, who is dressed in a white gown and wears heavy and seductive makeup. “Arapides” protect her like a sister from any would-be kidnapper. Whoever dares to kidnap her will be arrested by “Arapides” and will have to pay ransom. Another man plays the role of the “Gypsy”, is dressed in multicolored clothes, wears lots of bracelets, has red-colored lips, a face painted with ash, a garlic braid around her neck and a toy baby in her arms that tries to sell. Whoever grabs it and tries to leave is chased by “Arapides” and, if he is caught, he must also pay ransom.

Also, if any of the “Arapides” or a spectator gets sick or injured, there is the "Doctor" (hatlı) who is dressed in white clothes and wears a pigskin full-face mask. Riding his "pony" (a horse model between the rider's legs), the “Doctor” will rush to the rescue with his medicine in an animal skin bag and a wooden stick in hand. The festival lasts until the evening, with teasing, dancing and singing to the sounds of local musical instruments, gaida and dakhare. The custom is organized by the Educational and Cultural Association of Pagoneri, with the participation of all residents.