Wilco van Herpen
KARACAHAYIT- Hürriyet Daily News
A village wedding in Turkey can last three days and three nights, but this wedding will last only two days: It will be a short wedding. Gradually guests arrive and everyone gathers in the big garden. Then, finally, the bride and groom arrive
Red fabric and headscarves are used to make the horse even more beautiful than it already is. When everyone is ready, the groom mounts the horse and rides it to the house of his bride, who wears a red veil that covers her face completely. They stop everywhere and after a long ride, they arrive at the house of the groom.
It is 8 a.m. when I arrive in the village. On both sides of the road, plastic chairs are piled up. Today is a special day: It is the first day of a wedding in Karacahayıt, a village near Söke on the Aegean Sea. A village wedding in Turkey can last three days and three nights, but this wedding will last only two days: It will be a short wedding.
It’s not difficult to find the house where the wedding will take place: A big Turkish flag with a picture of Atatürk
on it has been hung on the front of the house. I enter the garden and see at least eight women walking around with vegetables, meat and fish. They are part of the team that is responsible for preparing the food for the wedding.
It is around 10 a.m. when two guys pick up one of the huge pans and walk towards the open place in the garden. There they put the pan down and one of them takes up a big wooden spoon. He starts beating the wheat, and once it becomes a thick, sticky dough, a woman starts adding meat to the mixture. It is a difficult job; the sun is burning like crazy, and it doesn’t take long before big drops of sweat begin to drip down his face. Another man takes over, and the first guy takes a break and is given a red scarf that he ties around his upper arm. At the same time he is offered a glass of rakı, the first of many that will be consumed in the coming two days. After three men have worked on the “keşkek,” it is my turn, and, full of energy, I start the job. Just a couple of minutes later it feels as if my arm is being torn from my body, but I do not give up. I continue, and manage to work on the keşkek for about 10 minutes, but then I have to give the wooden spoon to another man. It is impossible for me to continue. Someone gives me my well deserved red bandana, while another one pours my first glass of rakı of the day. Having fun until sunset
The musicians arrive from Söke, and within five minutes the first people are dancing. Now a crowd is preparing food, making keşkek, dancing and drinking. All this has happened before noon, and by that time most of the food has to be ready, because that is when the first guests will arrive.
Gradually the guests arrive and everyone gathers in the big garden. Then, finally, the bride and groom arrive. They’re not used to all the attention. They walk around a bit, sit down and eat something, but it doesn’t take long before they are also dancing. Eating, dancing and drinking continue until sunset. Suddenly everyone stands up and they all start walking toward the village. Someone informs me that we are all to go to the house of the bride, where they will hold the “kına gecesi” (henna night). This is a tradition when people get married in Turkey, and even in the big cities of Turkey, there are a lot of people who follow this tradition. For many people this is one of the highlights of their wedding.
The bride wears a red veil that covers her face completely. The groom takes a bit of the henna and places it in the bride’s palm. Then he wraps a piece of silk around her hand, covering the henna and so protecting her dress. They start dancing, and the bride looks very relieved. The parents of the couple move with the bride and groom to a corner of the room, and all the people line up. It is time to congratulate the newlyweds and give gold to the couple. What I have noticed during my years in Turkey is that people like to give gold, both in the cities as well as in the villages, but the amount of gold given in the villages exceeds by far the amount given in cities. Everyone is crying
At 4 a.m., I go to my camper to sleep a bit, because in a couple of hours the whole party will start again. It does not take long before I fall asleep, and I only awaken once: The musicians, still not tired, pass by and with their drum and zurna, playing so loudly that it is impossible to sleep through the sound.
I wake up a couple of hours later and get out of my camper. Everyone is still asleep. A truck arrives, and on the truck is a beautiful horse. Once the horse has been taken off of the truck, people begin dressing the horse up. Red fabric and headscarves are used to make the horse even more beautiful than it already is. At the same time, a hairdresser is shaving the groom and styling his hair. When everyone is ready, the groom mounts the horse and rides it to the house of his bride. She is waiting inside the house in a small room, together with her relatives and neighbors.
Everyone is crying, sad to lose their daughter, niece or grandchild. It makes me feel uncomfortable, because for me getting married is a happy occasion, but here it feels as if it is the end of the world. Then the bride wipes away her tears and goes to the front door. It is locked, because first the father of the bride must give his permission for her to marry the groom. The father and the groom quarrel, talk and finally shake hands; the girl is free to leave the house. People help her get on the horse, and another tour through the village starts. After a long ride, they arrive at the house of the groom.
Here, one last test is waiting for the groom: He has to prepare an egg for his wife and wash dishes. Someone smears black ashes on his face. With his dirty face he has to feed his wife. After eating the eggs he cleans his face, takes the bride and goes into his house. His mother opens the door of the house and together the newlyweds enter. Someone locks the door and throws away the key; the wedding is over. k HDN