The Turban, Donkey, and Rosary: Change and Stability in a Turkish Festive Tradition
Rituals are “building blocks” of festivals. Even though they are not common to all festivals, they determine the character of the festival that they take place in. The rites also play an important role in festivals. Festivals begin with an opening rite and also end with a closing rite. The opening rite sets the context of the festival and gives it the spatiotemporal meaning. Several other rites follow the opening rite. Rites of passage, reversal, conspicuous display, conspicuous consumption, exchange, competition, and ritual dramas are the most common. In the Aksehir Festival,practiced in south central Turkey and a variety of it recently in Europe, Nasreddin Hodja and his tomb are in the center of the event. Almost all of the core rituals of the festival involve the Nasreddin Hodja figure. Inviting Hodja to the festival, awakening Hodja from death, and Hodja’s attempt to ferment Aksehir Lake into yogurt are the formative rituals of the festival. The festival has gone through drastic changes since it was initiated in 1959. However, the core rituals stayed untouched and provided the festival with a sense of continuity and coherence.
Keywords: Nasreddin Hodja, Aksehir, Festival, Transformation, Globalisation
Assistant Professor of History, The Department of History and Philosophy, Kennesaw State University