Thousands gather to see camels wrestle in Aegean town
Thousands of people have come together to watch a camel wrestling festival held in the Aegean province of Aydın’s Nazilli district.
More than 180 camels, their owners and nearly 20,000 spectators from the neighboring provinces and towns attended the event which turned into a picnic-style party after some of the visitors set up their own barbeques and tables.
“I would like to thank those who contributed to the organization of the camel wrestling. A very nice arena has been prepared and precautions have been taken. Here, our traditions and customs are kept alive,” said Aydın Mayor Özlem Çerçioğlu.
The camels wrestled each other in short duels, trying to butthead or bite one another, but handlers separated them with long sticks each time they came close to physically hurting themselves.
Some camels, not wanting to wrestle, fled the field during the event.
Meanwhile, one of the figures that attracted the most attention at the event was Zekiye Çelebi, nicknamed “Hanımağa” (Lord Lady), who watched the camel wrestling games with 400,000 Turkish Liras ($29,400) worth of gold jewelry pinned on her.
“As I am a Yörük woman, I am not afraid of walking around with these gold jewelries on me,” Çelebi said.
The camel wrestling culture in Turkey is a tradition that belongs to the Yörüks, a nomadic people who arrived in Anatolia during the 11th century.
Local authorities permit organizations to conduct such events under the condition that they are organized for folkloric purposes and that the camels are not hurt.