The Customs and the Beliefs

Those, whose child does not survive, crush the seven Mawlid candies and put them in a bottle of cognac, so that their children will live longer. Then they pour this cognac into the water and bathe the child with that water.

Those, whose child does not survive, boil the root of “sindil” tree with the flower of the “ağlık” tree and bathe the child with this water. This work must be done within three months from the birth of the child.

The key to the bath is stolen without the knowledge of the bath owner, and a blacksmith named Mehmet is made to make a bracelet with it at the time of adhan on Friday. If a woman without a child wears this bracelet, she will give birth to a child and the child will be long-lived.   (Meliha, 42 years old).

When the construction of a building is started, an animal is sacrificed and its meat is given to the poor, those who are well-off throw gold and silver coins into the foundation pit when the first foundation stone is laid. In order for the house to be good in terms of acoustics, they bury jugs in the foundations of many houses. The house, in whose foundation a jug is buried in its foundation, will reflect the sound very well when spoken in it.    (Naime from Tarsus).

A sacrifice is made while the foundation of a building is being built. The meat of the sacrifice is given to the poor.  They bury its head and feet in the foundation of the house.   (Fatma Bacı).

Here they take the bride with horses, drums and zurnas on Wednesday. Before the girl leaves her own home, a newly bought mirror is taken to the groom's house without anyone seeing it. The man looks at this mirror at the first night and as soon as he sees the mirror, he falls in love with his bride and never leaves her again.   (Emine).

In the middle of Maraş, there is an island-like mountain part to the left that is surrounded by a castle. Before the Muslims entered Maraş, this place belonged to the Franks. There is a very wide and deep well in the middle of it. This well is now filled. There is a tunnel on the other side and it is reached by forty steps of stairs. Before, there were palaces inside the castle, and the king lived in these palaces. When the king's family went to the bath, they would pass through this tunnel and reach Çukur Hamam. The Çukur Hamam is underground. Only one dome is at the ground level. There is a small door on the street side. The bath is now in a dilapidated state. The king had two daughters, both were dead. One is buried next to the castle, and the other is buried next to the Grand Mosque in Boğazkesen. There were many rooms inside the Maraş castle. While Maraş was being conquered, the Muslim soldiers destroyed these rooms and they remained in a large pile of stones. There are only two rooms, the walls of which are one meter thick, and their iron doors are tied with chains and locked.    (Şerif).

The enthusiasts feed pigeons here. Everyone has a dovecote in their home. The owner feeds them every day. Then he opens the door of their cage and takes them out. All the pigeons gather in the courtyard. Then a whistle is blown. All at once they take off twirlingly and fly. In order for the pigeons to return to their coops, they tie a piece of white cloth to the end of a stick and shake it. Then the birds come back twirlingly to their places again. If there is a pigeon flying away, its owner will whistle a few times in a certain way. The pigeon, which goes astray, recognizes the whistling sound, and then it rushes back to its own coop.

The pigeon owners sometimes fight their pigeons with each other. This is a great pleasure and exciting event for them. If the pigeons mingle with another flock of pigeons while flying through the air, the two flocks fly together. This time, a few pigeons in one cluster are tricked by the pigeons of the other group and lowered into their own cages. Those who see that foreign pigeons are involved in their flock feed the foreign pigeons for a week without letting them go. Then they are also busy with their drills, and when the foreign pigeons get used to their flock, they fly them with the others. It is not customary for the former owner to want and take such pigeons back. Only if the pigeon mixed with a foreign group is of an unique breed, the former owner can buy it with money. They call the pigeons fed in Maraş as "Post pigeons". For those who keep pigeons, the fact that their flock deceives other pigeons is considered an occasion to laugh and have fun.   (Nâdire, 23 years old).

The shepherds usually live with families where they tend their animals. The families without a shepherd give their animals to one of their neighboring shepherds. The herd of shepherds is called Nahır here, which includes donkeys, mules, goats and cows. The people of Maraş call the goat “davar”. The shepherd's apprentice is also called “azap” here.   (Nâdire).

I asked a woman in her forties named Zeynep Bacı about the delivery customs: “We are not midwives, we do not know,” she said. I asked about the child diseases. “Our children did not get sick, we do not know,” she said. "Then, of course, you have heard, the puerperants are afflicted by Al Basty, give information about it", I said. Then the woman seemed to be in a hurry: After saying, "Come on, what is this, who asks this, we don't know anything", she spat on his fingertips three times, "tu ... tu... tu..." She kissed his fingers three times and brought them to his forehead, she was hesitant to give information about the things I asked.

In Maraş, they pay much respect to the dead. When I asked the people of Marash for information about the dead, they didn't want to say anything at all, they said, "Can this be talked about when there are many other things to ask and talk about?" I am recording, however, some of what I was able to memorize in the interim.

If a man dies on a Thursday, they definitely make read Mawlid in the evening, they say it is the first Friday of the dead. In a dead house in such a hurry, they buy sesame rings from the bazaar and give them to those who come to the mawlid. Here, during mawlids they make both sherbet and a thin bagel-like ring, which they call “Kömbe”, and distribute them two or three at a time. If someone dies suddenly on Thursday, they have mawlid recited on the first Friday, then they buy sesame rings from the bazaar as there is no time to make this kömbe. They call the sesame ring "köncülü".

Here, there is the custom of weeping at the head of the deceased, counting the virtues and goodness of the deceased and crying, the listeners also weep all the time. These laments go on for a long time. If the deceased is a young man and she has a companion, she cries every day by saying the following couplet:

Poplar in front of our house

The leaves fall from the poplar

My hand is hope, my face is in veil

Where did you leave me, my dear? .

Lying on the ground like a camel

Your mustache is like a string

My man is like lion

Where did you leave me, my dear? (Nadire H.)

When a family member of the rich people of Maraş dies, they immediately call the women who sing couplets and cry. After everyone gathers, the mourner recit the couplets, the people cry, the mourners sing all kinds of poems and praise the dead. If the deceased is a young groom, the bride will both say and cry, "Lying on the ground like a camel, your mustache is like a string". After the funeral, they red Qur’an and mawlid. They distribute to the poor by doing the things that the deceased loved most while he was alive. Sometimes they set up a tent on the grave and read the whole Qur’an once a day. This continues for seven days, after they read again the whole Qur’an on seventh day, they remove the tent. The readings are done by hodjas. (Fatma H. 45 years old)

Here, three days before Eid al-Fitr, everyone wakes up in a panic, and they make buns for the souls of the dead. According to their power, everyone produces the bun called “kömbe” with 3-5 scales of flour. For example, if one carat flour is respected, they add a batman (seven liters) oil to one carat flour. (Carat 15 oka, batman two and a half oka) These buns, which are kneaded with water and are made in the size of a plate, in a thin penny thickness, are fried in furnace. It is served to the guests and distributed to the poor during the eid.

When giving to the poor, they say for the souls of our dead, and when they receive it, they say, "May the souls of your dead be touched, may Allah accept it". (Fitnat H.)

When there is a funeral in a house, when the congregation comes to take the funeral, they make a little dough from flour on a plate, put a spoonful of oil and a head of onion on it, and send it to a widow or a very poor person, and then take the body out. The purpose of doing this is so that the fortune of the dead goes out first before the body.                   (Naime H. from Tarsus)

On Friday nights, the soul of the deceased would come and say, "Is my stove burning?" For this, on Friday nights, they would light a fire so that their stove would smoke, and they would take a piece of oil the size of a hazelnut and throw it into the fire. This smell would go to the nose of the dead, her/his soul would be happy. (At the age of 38-40, Elif Bacı conveyed it from her mother.)

That's what my mother used to do when I was little. We were poor, we couldn't distribute anything to other poor people, so my mother used to light a lamp and throw a little oil to the stove so that it could go to the noses of our dead.

Supposedly on Friday night, the soul of the dead comes, "I wonder if our stove is smoking." For this reason, on Friday night, they definitely light the stove so that their stove will smoke, and they make something like muffins and pies so that it relieves the souls of our dead. (Naime H.)

If a death occurs, as soon as the deceased come out, they give their shoes to someone else, and before they leave the house, they put rice in a bowl and send it to someone else so that the rizq of the deceased leaves before they leave. Then, for seven days, they light oil lamps in the place where the deceased died, and for seven days they distribute sugar and rice to seven households. (Elif Bacı)

Source: Müşfika Abdulkadir