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I have lived in Turkey for more than twenty-five years now, but have been rather hesitant about attending funerals, and so I only went to a couple of these ceremonies when close friends passed on. What is more, despite witnessing many deaths of ‘friends of friends and family’, and having had many private lessons cancelled while students attended funerals or remembrance ceremonies, I had never been to a Mevlüt until recently.
The manager of our site died suddenly of a heart attack. Everybody on the site was shocked as he was not considered to be an old man, and we had all respected him as our manager for several years now. I was unable to attend the funeral, but my husband went, and a good friend attended the prayers seven days later, which were held on the site, and so it came to pass that I was the representative for the Mevlüt after forty days, to be held in the Mosque in Kuşadasi.
I had no idea what to expect or how long it would last, but only knew there would be the doughnut pastries offered to everybody in the street afterwards, to be eaten in remembrance of the departed, and to wish them well in their afterlife – or so I had been told.
I hope this short piece does not offend anyone in any way, but I am writing it as a pure novice at attending such ceremonies. The manager’s daughter told me she had also never attended one, and had no idea what to do or what to expect. She had bought a few headscarves for us initiates, and gave them to us outside the Mosque so that we could be suitably covered as we went inside.
Ladies were ushered upstairs, after depositing shoes in little lockers at the bottom of the staircase – or just leaving them on the floor or the shelf.
Upstairs we found a carpeted gallery and some of the group who were obviously experienced here started their namaz, or prayer ritual, which consists of a sequence of movements both standing and kneeling, and repeated several times. This slightly resembles the Sun Salute from Yoga disciplines, but there are special words being whispered or softly uttered with it.
Our area was curtained off, but some of the children and their mothers peeped continuously through the curtains as they sat at the front on the thick carpet. I took the back ‘row’ and propped myself up against the back wall, so that I would be able to observe better and not be seen doing everything wrong myself. There were a few plastic stools there, but these were quickly reserved by the first ladies up the stairs.
The actual prayer ceremony began at about 5pm and was chanted by the Imam who was downstairs with all the gentlemen participants. It seemed to go in sections, but I have no idea what was actually being said or sung, so I spent the time watching the other people present while trying to think positive thoughts about our dearly departed manager.
I assumed that the rest of our group would be similarly engaged, quietly contemplating and praying in their language, but this was not the case. A lady next to me heard her telephone ringing loudly, but instead of scurrying to turn it off, she slowly got to her feet and found her handbag, removed the loudly ringing cell phone and looked at it to see who was calling. After a few more rings she turned it off. Or so I thought. Then she decided to move over to the far wall on the left and sit with a friend and have a chat. Her phone rang again, about twenty minutes later, and this time she actually answered it and held a conversation with the other party – all while the prayers were still being said down below. I idly wondered if this was why women were kept away from the main mosque area, but then admonished myself for such a silly thought.
In the middle of the ceremony our manager’s daughter got up and organised the children with a lot of rustling of plastic bags, until they had arranged some Turkish Delight (lokum) on a large serving dish, and some dried fruit on another platter. This was offered around to all of us upstairs while the prayers continued. Now, knowing our manager’s family quite well, I felt that this must be an important part of the ritual, but couldn’t stop myself from likening it to interval time at the cinema. Again, please forgive me for my wandering mind here.
People continued to change places, or pray, or chat, or peep through the curtain and the whole ritual went on for about an hour. During the last section our group joined in with some of the prayers and the ‘Amin’ s, while the imam got faster and faster and louder and louder, rushing through the sentences at breakneck speed and accenting certain parts of them until he reached the end. I would not have known when the end was, needless to say, and in fact some of our party had already started getting their things together and making their way downstairs before we reached this hurried last section.
So I am still no wiser about correct behaviour at a Mevlüt, or about what to expect. We made our way down and went out onto the street where the doughnuts (in Turkish this is another kind of lokum, actually, I think) were being deep fried and presented to a steady stream of attendees as well as passers-by. Here I asserted my foreign-ness and elbowed my way to the front of the queue, since I knew the helper who was serving and I didn’t want to stand in line for twenty minutes or so, feeling out of place and unsure what to say or do. Forgive me for this, Turkish readers, but I have learned how to be assertive here in Turkey, even if I have used this skill at the wrong time in this instance.
I ate a piping hot doughnut, burning my tongue in the process and thus earning my penance for being so pushy. Then I said my farewells to the widow and her daughter and left them all mingling in the street.
Seeing one lady there from our site as I left, I asked her what I was supposed to say. She replied quite candidly that there was nothing to be said; we all came to this world and left it; what more was there to say? This was life.
This article has been written by staff at The Serect, for more information you can also see our article here; The Secret - Breakfast & Brunch Bistro
Now we’re well into our first season at The Secret, we’re getting some very interesting feedback about the kind of activities people are looking for.
In response, we are introducing ‘The Secret Ladies’ – a day especially designed for ladies/women/girls/females – however you like to be known – to indulge in activities and chat about topics which interest us.
Enjoy our home-grown and home-made dishes prepared by our chef Songül, relax in the garden or by the pool, breathe the cool fresh air of the Yaran hills, meet up with old friends and make new ones. This is a day just for the ladies.
Q230: Can anyone recommend a jewellery maker on the peninsula (preferably Yalikavak), I'm fed up of haggling with over-charging rip-off jewellery shops, who don't have a clue!
A230.1: I highly recommend Ara in Bodrum. I have bought many pieces from them but also have some made. Exceptional quality. The jewellery has been valued at way more than I paid for it. Their store in the old part of Bodrum Town. Ask for Elvan. --Narelle
A230.2: Stonehouse Jewelry in Turgutreis. It's behind La Villa. They made our wedding rings. Family run, long established. --Maggie
A230.3: We use the jewelers in Ortakent Village and there is a workshop above they have made and fixed a few things for us.We wanted a certain thing making we gave him the sample and left it he copied it and it was better than the sample we supplied,made from some old gold bit and bobs and he kept what was left for payment. Also fixed a ring we had priced in England it was well over £100 and they did a great job for £15. --APBiffin
A230.4: We've recently trailed all over looking for wedding rings, including Yalikavak, and found the best by far to be Royal Jewellery in Gumbet. Better selection, and price, and they are a working, manufacturing jewellers. Ask to see Umit, he's the boss and knows what he is talking about. We're pretty sure he can help you out if you have some design ideas. --Peter and Jean
Having been married for the grand total of 3 weeks, I was delighted to be moving into a rented flat of our own in the centre of Izmir. Not wanting to sound ungrateful for the hospitality and acceptance I had received at the hands of my new family-in-law, I couldn’t wait to set up home with my husband, Kahraman.
The flat was small but adequate, off a busy street in one of the few remaining old-fashioned two storey houses amidst more modern 3 and 4 storey apartment blocks. Transport was duly arranged to carry our meagre store of possessions: a few suitcases of clothes and the odd bits of furniture we had managed to accumulate. There were some new items of rather poor quality interspersed with more solid but worn chairs, a table and a bookcase. The latter was the subject of much interest. Ah a büfe! : a display cabinet for unwanted ornaments difficult to dust!
The Secret is the dream of Fiona Jane Thomas, a British woman who first stepped on Turkish soil in the summer of 1980. She fell in love with the country from day one. Today she aims to share the beauty of the Bodrum Peninsula with all those who care to visit for whatever purpose. Specifically she wants to share the simplicity and wonders of Turkish village and country life.