Pilgrims dance in mystic ritual at Bulgarian mountain

Hundreds of pilgrims performed a dance-like ritual

LOCATION: Rila Mountain, Bulgaria

Universal White Brotherhood is an esoteric Bulgarian society

It was set up by spiritual teacher Peter Deunov in the 1920s

and combines a form of Christianity with Indian mysticism

Over 1,500 followers gathered for an annual ritual

to celebrate their divine new year

(SOUNDBITE) (Bulgarian) VIOLIN PLAYER AND FOLLOWER OF UNIVERSAL WHITE BROTHERHOOD, JOANA STRATEVA, SAYING: "August 19 is the beginning of the divine year. The spiritual teacher Peter Deunov - or Beinsa Duno - has said that on this day our sun has a special radiation, because great powers and energies gather here, which determine the development of the Earth and of the whole solar system."

(SOUNDBITE) (Bulgarian) VIOLIN PLAYER AND FOLLOWER OF UNIVERSAL WHITE BROTHERHOOD, JOANA STRATEVA, SAYING: "It (the brotherhood) is called 'white' to show that this is an idea about the bright cosmic powers. Here, in the last century these powers have sent a representative, a spiritual teacher who wanted to help people to grow higher in their consciousness. To understand they are all part of one whole, and they could all live, if they desire, in love and harmony. These are the ideas of the White Brotherhood - love as an understanding of a cosmic power."

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