Simion, the bell ringer of the Holy Trinity church spreads grass inside the church. This ritual symbolizes people approaching the Garden of Heaven.


Alexandra, 4, takes part in the Saturday of the Dead ceremony. According to Orthodox traditions, married women are not allowed to enter the pulpit. 


Ivan Cozma, 68, cleans the floor in the Holy Trinity, the local church built in 1833. The Pentecost celebration will be held here.

The Lipovans are an unique and small community. In the 18th century, they rejected Russian Orthodox Church reforms, a stance that made them no longer welcome in Russia, despite being native to its land. Most of them live now in Romania, but there are Lipovan communities in Ukraine, Moldavia and Bulgaria as well.  To this day, the community preserves old Orthodox rituals, upholding them in the precise way in which they were performed centuries ago. Pentecost is one of their most important celebrations, and Romanian photographer Cristian Munteanu documented the occasion in Carcaliu, a village by the Danube Delta where the population is almost entirely Lipovan.

Preparations for Pentecost can take more than a week. People prepare the church, cleaning it and laying grass and willow branches on the floors, unusual activities in a typical Orthodox church. The grass is a symbol of the Garden of Heaven, and the willow refers to the wood from which Noah built his ark. Celebrating Pentecost is something to which the people look forward. They wear traditional clothes for the day and after the church service ends, they all eat together.


Alina practices her mandolin one day before the Pentecost celebrations.


Elisaveta Condrat helps her husband tailor the vestment for the Archbishop Flavian. The Archbishop has to change his vestment before the Pentecost church service, as a symbol of his renewal in front of God.


Fiocla Cozma, 64, cleans a painting in the Holy Trinity church, representing Jesus before being buried. 


Simion, the bell ringer, lets everyone know the Pentecost service is about to begin.


Fiocla Cozma, 64, and Ivan Cozma, 68, wearing traditional Lipovan clothes, are getting ready to go to church for the Pentecost service.


An altar boy kneels in front of the Archbishop, asking for blessing.


Iulia, 4, takes part in the Pentecost church service. 


A child rests on the grass, after hours of standing during the church service.


A man worships the relics of Saints Gavedae and Kazdoe, during the Pentecost church service.


People holding religious symbols go round the church, a symbolic rite part of the Pentecost church service.


Children take Communion bread.


A young girl reads the Bible during the Pentecost church service.

All images © Cristian Munteanu

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