Ramadan in Istanbul: People Can Socialize at Outdoor Fast-breaking Dinners on City Streets
Long a fixture of public squares throughout Istanbul during Ramadan, large municipal-run tents providing a fast-breaking meal and other cultural activities are giving way to “meals-on-wheels” projects to poorer families and more localized street dinners.
“People meeting each other on the streets, mingling with their neighbors, everybody bringing their tables to the front of their houses – that could work out well,” Istanbul Metropolitan Mayor Kadir Topbaş recently said in reference to plans to localize Ramadan festivities instead of organizing them in a more central location.
Monday marks the beginning of the holy month, during which observant Muslims fast between dawn and sunset for 30 days, rising each day before dawn to eat the suhoor, or morning meal, continuing their fast until they take the fast-breaking iftar after the evening prayer.
Topbaş said people could socialize in outdoor fast-breaking dinners on the city’s streets.
Beykoz Municipality, on Istanbul’s Asian side, was one of the pioneers in the Ramadan tent tradition, but it has announced plans this year to provide aid checks to 8,000 families. Beyoğlu Municipality also used to set up tents in central areas like Beykoz, but it also plans to organize smaller street dinners in local neighborhoods.
Drummers allowed but not for suhoor
Üsküdar Municipality, meanwhile, will not break the tradition this year and will distribute food in nine different locations, an official from the municipality recently told the Hürriyet Daily News.
Ramadan drummers in the district will be allowed to beat their drums to prepare people for the fast-breaking meal but will not be allowed to wake up people for the suhoor, the official said.
In the days before alarm clocks, drummers would traditionally go street to street, beating on their instruments to rouse people for the suhoor. Many municipalities, however, have banned the practice due to early-morning noise complaints.
“People can also break their fasts at dinners set up in 33 neighborhoods of Üsküdar Municipality accompanied by traditional Turkish music,” the official said.
Unlike others, Fatih and Bakırköy municipalities will set up tents in central areas, aiming to reach people in the traditional way. With a capacity of 5,000 people, Fatih will set up a tent in the Eminönü area. Municipal authorities there also plan to distribute 2,500 meals to families.
Meanwhile, a tent set up in Bakırköy’s Kartaltepe Hürriyet neighborhood will provide meals for 1,500 people while another 10,000 meals will be distributed, Hacı Kuru, the municipality’s environmental protection and control manager, told the Daily News.
Istanbul will host many activities such as concerts, theater play and reading fairs in cultural centers around the city during Ramadan.
Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality will organize traditional Ramadan activities in many areas, such as Sultanahmet, Feshane and Beyazıt.
During the holy month, new generations will have the opportunity to see traditional Turkish theatrical arts, such as “Karagöz,” “ortaoyunu” and “meddah.”
Municipalities have also organized wizard shows, puppet shows, pantomimes, Turkish classical music concerts and Sufi music concerts as part of Ramadan activities.
This year’s Ramadan fast will continue until Tuesday, Aug. 30, the beginning of the Şeker Bayram holiday. This year, the holiday will last for three days.
July 31, 2011
SOURCE: Hürriyet Daily News