Tatavla Carnival returns to Istanbul’s streets
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
This year, like last year, Greeks originally from Şişli’s neighborhood of Kurtuluş (which is known as Tatavla in Greek) will descend on Istanbul from Greece for the carnival, which is held just before Christians enter the 40-day Lenten period before Easter. DAILY NEWS photos, Hasan ALTINIŞIKOne of the oldest settlements in Istanbul, the neighborhood of Kurtuluş, will host the colorful Tatavla Carnival on its streets again this year.
This year, like last year, Greeks originally from Şişli’s neighborhood of Kurtuluş (which is known as Tatavla in Greek) will descend upon Istanbul from Greece for the carnival, which is held just before Christians enter the 40-day Lenten period before Easter, despite the major economic crisis there.
On Feb. 27 at 7 p.m., a cortege featuring revelers decked in colorful carnival costumes will start from Emekliler Evi (Retirees’ House) in the neighborhood of Feriköy and pass down the Baruthane and Bozkurt streets, ending at Son Durak (last stop) in Kurtuluş.
The entertainment will then continue at the local Tatavla Restaurant, Hüseyin Irmak, a researcher and writer who has been responsible for the revival of the event for the past three years, recently told the Hürriyet Daily News.
No carnivals were held in Istanbul for a long time after Anatolian Christians emigrated from Turkey in the 1940s because of political problems. Irmak, who grew up in the Kurtuluş neighborhood, said his childhood friends were Greeks, Armenians and Jews.
“My childhood friends have dispersed all around the globe. While they left this place, they have Kurtuluş in their hearts. As time went by, I learned more about the past of the land I was living in. I wanted to contribute to it and this was how the idea of reviving the Tatavla Carnival was born,” he said.
DAILY NEWS photo, Hasan ALTINIŞIK
The first year of the carnival, 80 people participated, Irmak said, adding that this figure went up to 120 in its second year. This year, with the support of the Hagia Dimitri Church Foundation located in Kurtuluş, more than 250 people are expected to participate in the carnival.
Irmak said there had never been any security issues. “This is such a pleasing fact. But, again, we are extra careful and sensitive,” he added.
Those who came from Greece to join the carnival felt deep sorrow from time to time, Irmak said. “Call it homesickness, call it the revival of those memories told to you by your grandparents, or call it accumulated pain, it is possible to feel it through their eyes. Despite all that, the revival of this carnival gives them hope.”
This year a dance group from Greece will participate in the carnival, Irmak said. “We may not be able to understand each others’ languages but we will communicate through our eyes and through our hearts.”
Another historic carnival, the Pera Baklahorani Carnival, will also take place Feb. 26 at 8 p.m. “The more carnivals held, the happier we are,” Irmak said. “It is a fact that the finale of carnivals is Tatavla. And carnival means Tatavla.”