Saturday, 18 August 2012

RAMAZAN BAYRAMI - A TIME OF GREAT CELEBRATION IN TURKEY

Today is Ramadan Feast Eve which marks the last day of the month long Ramazan fasting and is a  day of preparation for the start of the three day festival Ramazan Bayrami also known as the Şeker Bayramı (sugar festival) since it is customary to offer sweets to family and friends who visit.

Many people will purchase new clothes to wear for the Festival, and will take time preparing traditional desserts such as Baklava to give to friends and neighbours. Today is also a day to remember and honour the dead and many people will be visiting the cemeteries to visit the graves of departed friends and family.

Eid ul-fitr (the festival of the breaking of the fast) is the end of the month of Ramazan and the commencement of a three day festival, during which all Government offices, schools, banks and many private businesses will be closed. A time of feasting and sharing, when friends, family and neighbours are visited, past grievances are cast aside and charity is foremost in people's minds. Children will visit relatives and friends and traditionally kiss the elders right hand and then place their hand on their forehead as a mark of respect to them. They will in turn give the children sweets and money.

Although not living here last year we happened to be here on holiday during the Ramazan Bayrami and it was a wonderful atmosphere here in the village. On the first day of celebrations we saw villagers setting off to visit neighbouring villages by any number of modes of transport. They went by mule, packed in cars, on trailers pulled by ancient tractors, entire families loaded on scooters and all dressed up as we had never seen them before.

Conspicuous in their absence was the herd of goats the first morning of Bayrami which normally browse around our house. However, the goatherd was there with his stock in the evening looking very dapper in his best clothes, allowing his goats to browse in the field opposite our house. A lady with them - Mother? - laid down in the field whilst they browsed and after an hour or more of  laying comatosed, during which time we watched her dog try several times to rouse her, we were just about to go across, as we were thinking she had suffered a heart attack and died, when she slowly got up and tottered off - a case of over indulgence at the family feast perhaps?!

During the three days of festivities, traffic increases considerably as people travel to visit friends and relatives. In fact statistics show a massive increase in credit card expenditure during this time, a lot of which is spent on petrol. It is also possible that ATMs may run out of money during the holiday period. But other than that most visitors to Turkey during the Festival period will thoroughly enjoy the fantastic atmosphere at this time.

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