Alevis celebrate Nowruz in Turkey
Nowruz, celebrated from Central Asia to the Balkans in Europe, is one of the most important festivals in Turkey since ancient times, especially during the Ottoman Empire which was celebrated by the royal family. They were preparing special food and holding festivities to welcome Nowruz.
Today, Nowruz is roughly known among many people in Turkey. Nowruz is an important festival for Kurds and also Turkish Alevis. In this regard, Mehr News conducted an interview with Remzi Kaptan, Alevi political activist and researcher who has many researches and essays on the customs and traditions of Turkish Alevis in Turkish and German.
Here is what he shared with us about status of Nowruz among Alevis in Turkey:
Yes, the word Nowruz has entered from Persian and Kurdish to the Turkish language. Nowruz marks the first day of spring which usually occurs on March 21.
Nowruz is a major festival which is celebrated across a vast geographical area, from Central Asia to the Balkans.
Different societies have different ways to celebrate the festival. Nowruz has a special place among Kurds in Turkey and based on Kurdish legends, Nowruz marks the day when Kaveh defeated the tyrant king Zahhak and freed people from his oppression. Nowruz is celebrated according to the relevant customs of every community in Asia, the Middle East and the Balkans.
Nowruz remained as the main festival among Alevis. They, as well as other communities, celebrate Nowruz in accordance with their own culture and traditions.
Based on the religious beliefs of Turkey's Alevis, many important events have been occurred in Nowruz which include the formation of the world, Muhammad's first revelation, birth of Imam Ali, the Marriage of Imam Ali (AS) and Hadrat Fatima Zahra (SA), appointment of Imam Ali (as) by the Islamic prophet Mohammad as his successor, the beginning of caliphate of Imam Ali (AS) and travel of Haji Bektash Veli, a great Sufi teacher, humanist and philosopher, to Anatolia in the 13'th century.
Nowruz marks the day Mukhtar al-Thaqafi led an abortive rebellion against the Umayyad Caliphs in vengeance for the death of Imam Hossein (as) at the Battle of Karbala and the expulsion of Ibn Al-Zubayr's governor in Kufa. To indicate his resurrection, Mukhtar lit a fire in every neighborhood, since then Alevis lit the fire on the day as a sign of protest to the oppression and darkness.
Other than a festival to be celebrated across the world, Nowruz is an event which enjoys religious values.
Nowruz is celebrated differently among different communities. Alevis also have special traditions in Nowruz.
Nowruz begin on early hours of the morning. After Dede (Spiritual Father) reads a special prayer, the breakfast is collectively eaten and all members drink milk.
Among the first and important activities done during the day are making peace among people who are angry with each other, meeting and visiting the poor, the sick, as well as mausoleums and cemeteries.
The dining tables where dinner is served should be separated, that is, tables served for old people are separated from those for the young. The young people sing local songs, dance and jump over fire to celebrate Nowruz.
At the end of the day all members of a family gather together and Dede carries out special ceremony of Nowruz at 20:00 in the evening.