Ramadan welcomed with excitement in Turkey

iftar_b1.jpgThe whole of Turkey was surrounded by a spiritual atmosphere on the first day of the holy month of Ramadan this Monday, bringing all people together at feast-breaking dinners and reviving old traditions of the holy month.
Ä°stanbul’s historical Sultanahmet Square was one of the centers of traditional Ramadan entertainment on the first day of the holy month. Various traditional Turkish drinks and food were sold at the square, which was designed as a Ramadan center by the municipality.

Festivities at the square began with recitations from the Quran and a concert of Sufi music after the terawih prayer, an evening prayer performed during Ramadan after the regular night prayer. The Ramadan activities drew the attention of both foreign and Turkish tourists. People that gathered in Sultanahmet Square said it was very nice to welcome Ramadan in Ä°stanbul.

The square is home to the German Fountain, built by German Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1903. Sherbet flowed from the German Fountain instead of water and visitors lined up. Eminönü Mayor Mahir Katırcı said that this will continue for eight days, with every day being marked by a different syrup, totaling 500 liters of syrup for the eight days. This drink is being served for free.

Ä°stanbul’s BayrampaÅŸa Prison, which was a symbol of ill treatment of prisoners and was recently closed for this reason, is hosting a large fast-breaking tent this Ramadan. The former prison is now witnessing the joy of people breaking their fasts. Over 1,500 people broke their fast at BayrampaÅŸa Prison, with former inmates among them. Adem Çimen, who stayed at BayrampaÅŸa Prison for four and a half years about 25 years ago, said coming to the prison revived bad memories. “I lived through some very difficult years here. It is unbelievable but we are here today again — though this time for a meaningful activity.” The menu of the first fast-breaking dinner at BayrampaÅŸa Prison was lentil soup, rice and yoghurt.

Religious representatives meet at fast-breaking tent

Turkey’s Chief Rabbi Ishak Haleva, Turkish Syriac Orthodox Church Patriarchal Vicar Mor Filiksinos Yusuf Çetin, Turkish Syriac Catholic Bishop Yusuf Sağ, Turkish-Armenian Patriarchal Archbishop Aram Atesyan and Şişli Mufti Recep Öztürk gathered at İstanbul’s Şişli municipality’s fast-breaking tent and delivered messages of peace. Haleva said it was very nice to come together as religious representatives on the first day of Ramadan, which coincided with World Peace Day, and added: “This is an important message for the whole world. The whole world should see that representatives of different religions can sit together around a fast-breaking dinner in peace.”

Fast-breaking dinners have raised religious feelings of Turkish citizens in other parts of the country also. Officials from the southeastern province of Gaziantep had their fast-breaking dinner with relatives of martyrs from Gaziantep. Gaziantep deputies Özlem Müftüoğlu and Halil Mazıcıoğlu, Gaziantep Governor Süleyman Kamçı, Gaziantep Mayor Asım Güzelbey and mayors of other districts of the province had their fast-breaking dinners at the municipal soup kitchen in Gaziantep with the relatives of martyrs.

Fatih Çiftçi, the mayor of the district of Erciş of the eastern province of Van, had his first fast-breaking dinner with citizens in need in the municipality’s fast-breaking tent. Çiftçi said that they have been establishing feast breaking tents during Ramadan since he became the mayor of Erciş and added he was very happy to have his dinner with people in need. Çiftçi said they are hosting around 5,000 people every day at the tent and serve four different kinds of food.

Civil society organizations and the municipality are in competition in Konya to serve fast-breaking dinners and send food packages to people. While civil society organizations like Kimse Yok Mu? (Is anybody there?) and Dost Eli send food packages to people in need, the municipality serves food to 5,000 people daily at a fast-breaking tent.

03 September 2008, Wednesday