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Sunday, 4 April 2010

Weddings and Oil Wrestling

It's 1.45am...I'm very tired...but I'm wide awake.  Two reasons for this.  Firstly I have eaten an enormous amount of cheap Turkish chocolate today, to quell the craving for cigarettes, and now I'm suffering from heartburn.  I know I have some antacid tablets somewhere, but I just can't find them, so I will just have to sit upright or stick my fingers down my throat to make myself sick.  I'm afraid I really can't do the latter so I'll probably be sitting up all night.

The second reason for being awake, was the noise from a wedding celebration down in the village.  Loud music from loudspeakers which, because the wind was blowing in this direction, sounded like it was in our garden.  It started around lunchtime, and got progressively louder.  I tried to go to sleep around 11pm with the window shut.  Mr Ayak on the other hand, like most Turks, enjoys a lot of noise, so he was in the sitting-room with the windows wide open.  Weddings can go on for several days, so I wasn't really expecting peace and quiet until at least Monday.

I was half-asleep an hour or so ago, and was suddenly aware that it was the heartburn preventing me from sleeping...the music had stopped.  I got up to get some water.  Mr A was watching TV.  I remarked that it was suddenly quiet.  He replied that one of our neighbours had just told him that a member of the wedding party had been shot dead (edited later to add that he is allegedly dead..nothing confirmed as yet)....so the celebrations had naturally ceased.

Now anyone who is familiar with Turkish weddings, will know that there's always someone with a gun who can't resist firing up into the air, just to add to the excitement.  However, if you add alcohol into the equation..there's a good chance someone is going to get hurt.  The majority of Turkish village weddings, in my experience, have been completely non-alcoholic.  However this village has a reputation  for it's consumption of alcohol.  There are a considerable number of middle-aged and elderly widows living here, whose husbands have died before their time because of their over-indulgence.

Mr A and I tend to avoid village weddings these days.   I'm not happy being around people firing guns...even if they are sober!


Tomorrow (or rather today...Sunday) there is a yağlı güreş (oil wrestling)  tournament in the next village.

Oil wrestling is a Turkish national sport.   The wrestlers, known as pehlivan (from Persian  meaning "hero" or "champion")  douse themselves in olive oil, and wear a type of hand-stitched lederhosen called kisbet  which are traditionally made of water buffalo hide.

Unlike Olympic wrestling, oil wrestling matches may be won by achieving an effective hold of the kisbet. Thus, the pehlivan aims to control his opponent by putting his arm through the latter's kisbet. To win by this move is called paça kazık. Originally, matches had no set duration and could go on for one or two days, until one man was able to establish superiority, but in 1975 the duration was capped to 30 minutes. If no winner is determined, another 10 minutes of wrestling ensues, wherein scores are kept to determine the victor.

The annual tournament held in Edirne in Turkish Thrace since 1362, is the oldest continuously running, sanctioned sporting competition in the world. In recent years this style of wrestling has also become popular in other countries, most notably the Netherlands and Japan.

The first oil wresting tournament I attended was in Selçuk.  I only intended to stay for a short time as I thought it would be boring.  It was actually very exciting and we ended up watching for six hours. So I'm looking forward to tomorrow.

 But I should try to get some sleep first, or we'll be going nowhere. 

4 comments:

  1. Have you tried a drink of milk for the heartburn, it sometimes works. The wrestling sounds a good day out, so enjoy!

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  2. Phew, I'm glad our villages differ in that one way: no shooting at our weddings (and not quite as noisy either). That sounds hair raising! Enjoy the wrestling. There isn't a female version of this by any chance is there... Just asking ;-)

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  3. Baking soda with water is a fast and easy solution to that kind of heartburn. Works in a couple of seconds and though the idea of drinking mildly salty water is unappetizing (even cold water isn't much help) it certainly does the trick. I used to have terrible heartburn with that lava belch whenever I drank a beer and smoked at the same time. The last time I had that sort of thing nowadays was when I took an antibiotic on any empty stomach.. doh!

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  4. Jan: Yes I should have thought of milk.

    Heiko...No female version I'm afraid...sorry!

    Nomad: Oh yes...baking soda!

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