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Qatar Tribune Gazetesinde "ramazan Is Like A Festival In Turkey" Başlığıyla Sunulan, Muhabir Ramy Salama'nın Büyükelçi Ahmet Demirok'la Gerçekleştirdiği Mülakatın Metni , 13.07.2014

THE Holy Month of Ramadan is celebrated not just in the Arab World but across the globe, including Turkey, which straddles the continents of Asia and Europe.

Ramadan, known as Ramazan in Turkey, is considered one of the most important periods of the year, HE Ahmet Demirok, Turkey's Ambassador to Qatar told Qatar Tribune recently.

"Ramazan is a festival in Turkey. We call it the 'Sultan of the 11 months' and we celebrate its coming in the country, starting with preparations long in advance. We prepare our houses as we receive family and guests, as well as the streets and mosques by cleaning and decorating them, perhaps like in Christmas in European countries. And of course, a lot of effort is made in preparation of food. Given that people are fasting for 15 hours or so, or 17 hours in Turkey this year, healthy food dishes are very important," the ambassador said.

One of the most beautiful characteristics of Ramadan in Turkey is the Mahya - which is seen in the streets of Istanbul and the surrounding areas. The ambassador explained,"Mahya, which originates from the Ottoman era, refers to a set of lights hung between two minarets of a mosque, welcoming Ramadan. It's a wonderful tradition for us, to greet Ramazan in this way."

Another tradition, which is also seen in some Arab countries, although seldom practised these days is the 'musaharati'."We have drummers who walk down the streets and around the neighbourhoods during sohour to wake up people by beating their drums and singing special Ramadan songs," the ambassador said.

Another characteristic of Ramadan in Turkey is the community gatherings in city squares and markets."Ramadan is lived in Turkey as a social experience. So, we have Ramadan tents and bazaars. After iftar, people go for Taraweeh prayers, and then, everybody stays outside and gathers at the city squares. Here, some people eat or buy candy. There are also public performances, including Ottoman theatre plays. This tradition dates back to the Ottoman times," the ambassador added.

In spite of these variations, Ramadan in Turkey is also similar in many ways to Qatar. The spirit of community, piety and charity in Ramadan are same all over, according to the ambassador."When you compare Ramadan in the two countries (Turkey and Qatar), there are minor variations, but no major differences," the ambassador concluded.