Turkey has proposed for inscription on UNESCO lists of intangible heritage three traditions: the Kırkpınar oil wrestling festival, the Semah, Alevi-Bektaşi ritual and the traditional Sohbet meetings. Turkey is one of the 29 countries proposed for inscription on UNESCO lists of intangible heritage. Among these countries, Eastern Europe is represented by six countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Lithuania, Turkey, the Czech Republic and we already covered Croatia.
The Kırkpınar oil wrestling festival is the oldest wrestling festival in the world, with a tradition of almost 650 years. The game was invented by the Ottoman Raiders, in Rumelia, during the period of Orhan Ghazi, with the command of his son, Süleyman Paşa, before the conquest of Edirne (1361). Today, the Kırkpınar oil wrestling festival is performed in Edirne and attracts thousands of people from different age groups, cultures and regions. Similar oil wrestling activities are held in other Turkish cities: Afyon, Ankara, Antalya, Bursa, Bolu, Çanakkale, Isparta, İstanbul, Kırklareli, Kocaeli, Manisa, Sakarya, Samsun and Tekirdağ.
The Semah, Alevi-Bektaşi ritual was shaped around the religious figure of Ali – the fourth caliph following
Muhammed the Prophet. It is a circling ritual dance (semah) performed by both women and men. The Alevi are an Islamic religious, sub-ethnic and cultural community, who practice a religion based on love and respect for all people, tolerance towards other religions and ethnic groups, respect for working people and equality of men and women. As bearers and practitioners of semah tradition, Alevi-Bektaşi communities are existent all across Turkey, having concentrated in certain regions with different names. Semah is an inseparable part of the Alevi central worship service – the cem. Men and women dance together, turning and swirling, accompanied by the bağlama
Trukey’s third proposed entry on the UNESCO list of intangible heritage this year are the traditional Sohbet meetings (Geleneksel Sohbet Toplantıları). The meetings are generally held in special places in the gardens and orchards of the province, as a way to pass the long winter nights. Although “Traditional Sohbet Meetings” meetings have different names in different regions of Turkey, they all have the same function. In a discipline of teach and delight, the primary aim is to have conversations and talks in leisure times. “Traditional Sohbet Meetings” talks, through the concepts of love, fellowship, brotherhood and respect for each other, ensure safeguarding and conservation of traditions as well as creating a sense of neighborhood.