Sociologist revelas secrets of ‘Sıra Nights’ in a new book
ŞANLIURFA - Anatolia News Agency
Şanlıurfa’s ‘Sıra Nights’ used to be organized to support the friendship between people and over time it has become a tradition in the province. Mahmut Kaya’s book uncovers the real characteristics of these nights. AA photoThe “Sıra Nights” are an event typically organized in Şanlıurfa that features a gathering of people eating and singing songs with traditional musical instruments. In his new book, writer and a sociologist Mahmut Kaya has uncovered the real characteristics of these nights but says they lost their real characteristics many years ago.
“I have been analyzing and researching this tradition for many years,” Kaya told Anatolia news agency. Sıra Nights used to be organized to support the friendship between people and “over time it has become a tradition in Şanlıurfa.” He has not been able to identify any written archival material relating to how and by whom this tradition had been created, however, he believes it was a practice “supported by the religious traditions,” he said.
The Sıra Nights were set up between artists and tradesmen in Şanlıurfa in the past. “They have added the long music tradition in Şanlıurfa to this supporting organizational group nights,” Kaya said. Yet the tradition and the structure changed, he added.
‘It was an evening of conversation’
According to Mesela Hasan Açanal’s article “The social life in Urfa during 1875,” no alcohol would be consumed during the Sıra Nights. “In the 1800s, people would gather on Tuesdays and Fridays to talk, read histories to each other and play music,” said Kaya. The aim of the night was not to drink alcohol or sing songs, it was an evening of conversation. The original style of the Sıra Nights usually focused on reading books and talking. Yet has times have progressed, the structure of the night changed and it have now become a night of music.
In the past it was very important to be a part of a group and it reflected a person’s stature. “The group a person belonged to was a reflection of the social standing,” Kaya said. For many, this was an opportunity to signify prestige and gain respect, increasing levels of communication and sharing between people.
The nights also helped people who lived in the same area to get to know each other. “This is a significant characteristic of the diverse culture of Şanlıurfa, reflecting peace and tolerance. “Society thinks that the Sıra Nights are a part of musical culture, but this is not true,” Kaya said. A Sıra Night used to be a “modest night,” not a night to celebrate or to dance.
Today, the nights have become a tourist attraction, operating more like celebrations held during marriage ceremonies. “This is not the right image of the tradition,” Kaya said. The concept of celebration was only a small part of the Sıra Nights and music was only a small part of the tradition. “The main focus of a Sıra Night was conversation.” The addition of music makes the tradition useless and is “wrong,” according to Kaya.