On September 8th and 9th, Houston hosted the first Turkic
festival in Texas. The event had 7,000 people come to celebrate
Turkey's rich culture and heritage. The city of Houston showed
its warm hospitality as people from different parts of the world
united to commemorate the culture. The festival featured performances from an Ottoman military band, The Ayna Band, a popular
Turkic pop/rock group), authentic Turkic folk dancers, showcasing
Turkey's numerous cultures and a shadow theatre. Booths offered
hand craftsman calligraphy; ceramic arts and costumes were also
available for purchase.
Ottoman military bands referred to as mehters are believed to
be the oldest type of military bands in the world. The whole concept of military bands began in the 16th century Ottoman Empire.
A typical mehter consists of customary instruments such as boru
(trumpet), nakare (small kettledrum), kos (large bass drum), cevgen
(stick bearing small bells), kaba zurna (bass variety of the zurna),
and the davul (frame drum). The bands usually dress in colorful
costumes, including long robes wrapped in silk and high ribbed
hates. To modern-day Turks, Ottoman bands are viewed as part of
Turkey's imperial history and embody heroism.
Turkic dancers perform at a vast number of events; weddings,
religious festivals, sending young men off to the military; and victory celebrations are just a few examples. These dancers are respectable people who have an aptitude for the region's music and
folk dances that they perform in. Folk dances vary by occasion, but
generally deal with daily life, natural events, social events, stories,
and matters of the heart. In addition, dances are usually name after geographic regions, their creators or the stories they relate to.
In historicTurkey, weddings were lager spectacle, which spanned
several days. The average wedding ceremony consisted of a procession to the bridegroom's house, bridal-bath and henna-party.
At the henna part, the bride and womenfolk of her future husband
would dress up in opulent dresses called bindalli; a sequined red
veil would cover the bride's face. Once everyone had assembled,
llie bride's future mother-in law would roll out a silk cloth. The
bride would then approach her while songs were sung in the
background and fruity trays appeared. As a sign of good luck and
abundance, the bride would receive a gold coin from her mother-
in-law. A woman who was happily married had the job of tinging
the bride's palms, big toes and fingertips with henna; unmarried
friends of I he bride would also receive this tinging in hopes t hat
they too find a groom.
The Turkish Shadow Theatre's feature, 'Karazog' showcased
puppets 35-40 centimeters high, made from camel and water
buffalo hides. Shadow play, itself, was introduced to public and
private venues in the 17th century but 'Karazog' was performed in
14th century at the Ottoman palace.
Story by Kristin Red dock
(Ottoman miliiarv bands perfom in front of a crowd.
They represented the colors olTurkev in their COS-
Photo byReem Chughtai
\ participant fashions the outfit of a Turkish Prince.
\ black robe with gold emrboiderj and a matching
1*1 ioto byReem ( 'hughtai
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Women sal in groups while preparing hot
their guests al the festival.
Photo b\ Reem Chughtai
The crowd enjoys performances b) the (Ottoman
Military Band outside (lit} Hall.
Photo byReem t 'hughtai