MUĞLA – Anadolu Agency
Camel wrestling, a Yörük tradition, is organized in January and February every year in many Aegean provinces. Authorities permit the organizations of such events under the condition that they are organized with folkloric purposes and that the camels are not harmed.
The money obtained from camel wrestling are used for communal purposes such as constructions of schools, mosques, health centers, fountains or bridges.
Camels can wrestle between the ages of six and 25. Depending on their championships in previous years, their owners are paid an amount between 1,000 and 20,000 Turkish Liras to participate. The owner of the winner camel is given a cup at the end of the competition. Municipalities every year encourage locals to organize such events that are like festivals.
Cumhur Çoban, the deputy mayor of the Aegean province of Muğla, said the Yörük people have tried to prolong their centuries-long camel wrestling traditions.
“Antalya, Burdur, Muğla, Aydın and İzmir are the settlement places of the Yörüks. It is a tradition for Yörüks to organize camel and bull wrestling. The income from such organizations contributes to the region. It also builds and strengthens solidarity among people,” he said.
Money spent on students
Çoban said the money raised in such events was used to contribute to local people’s needs such as education. “The education of children and schools are very important in our life. This money is spent for schools, mosques, and other social needs if necessary. This is the same with bull wrestling. Camel wrestling brings people together from Aydın, Burdur, Denizli, Muğla and neighboring villages and make them spend good time.
It also contributes to people who are dealing with camel breeding. They spend money for their camels and meet their needs. The rest of the money is spent on children and students,” he said.
Muğla’s Menteşe district Mayor Bahattin Gümüş said Yörüks used camels for migration purposes. He said Yörüks knew how to enjoy life, which is why such traditions still existed in the region.
“It is a social activity that also brings money. It contributes to the needs of the districts via local associations,” he said.
Orhan Akcan, chairman of the Muğla Yörük Tents Association, said the tradition dated back to 1,000 years and is strictly not organized for commercial purposes.
“This is a kind of sports, it is winter entertainment for the Yörüks, and has been surviving for centuries,” he added.