Hıdırellez festival celebrated with dance, music and wishes

Hıdırellez festival celebrated with dance, music and wishes

Hıdırellez festival celebrated with dance, music and wishes

Revellers dance with Roma band musicians during a Hıdırellez street party, a local festival to celebrate coming of the summer, in the old city of Istanbul. REUTERS Photo / Murad Sezer

Revelers jumping over fire and making wishes have marked the coming of summer at this year’s Hıdırellez festival, which was held across Turkey on May 5.

In Istanbul, hundreds of people gathered alongside locals to take part in the event, which was held for another year in the historic Ahırkapı neighborhood in the old city.

Since 2010, Hıdırellez has become one of the biggest outdoor festivals in Istanbul, attracting not only locals but also a growing number of tourists.

Roma musicians accompanied revelers in the narrow streets of Ahırkapı. As that neighborhood has been included in the municipality’s plans for urban renewal, the committee who organized the event stressed the importance of the annual Hıdırellez festival in preserving Ahrıkapı and its inhabitants.

A huge fire was ignited on the shores of the Tunca river in the Thracian province of Edirne, where the festival is also known as “Kakava” (part of Romani tradition). Hundreds who attended the event made wishes by tying red and white ribbons round a tree, invoking a legend according to which all wishes and prayers come true on the eve and the very day of Hıdırellez.

Hıdırellez, and its variants, is held in a large region stretching from Eastern Europe to Central Asia. In Turkey, the festivities are particularly important for the Roma and Alevi communities.  
The night of Hıdırellez, marks the only moment of the year when Hızır (or Khıdır), symbolizing earth and vegetation, meets İlyas (Elijah), who is associated with the sea and the water.

Turkey applies for UNESCO status

Meanwhile, the Culture Ministry has applied to UNESCO to grant Hıdırelez intangible cultural heritage status.

“Turkey has applied to UNESCO to award Hıdırellez ‘intangible cultural heritage’ status. We are expecting good news from them,” Minister Ömer Çelik said.