Home News More than 3 thousand drummers across Istanbul, what they do during Ramadan

More than 3 thousand drummers across Istanbul, what they do during Ramadan

More than 3 thousand drummers across Istanbul, what they do during Ramadan

Every Ramadan, the city of Istanbul wakes up to the sound of drums in the late hours of the night. A group of drummers wake up the devout Muslims by beating the drum at the time of Sahri. They wake up to the sound of drums and eat sahri.

This culture of the traditional city of Istanbul in Turkey is thousands of years old. Historians say that this culture has been going on since the Ottoman Empire.

This year’s Ramadan was no exception. Around 3,500 drummers roam the streets of Istanbul to wake up Muslims at dawn. “This year, 3,350 drummers will play drums for 30 days of Ramadan,” said Salemi Aykut, chairperson of Mukhtar Association in Istanbul.

In Turkey, the village-chiefs or mohalla-chiefs are called ‘mukhtars’. Almost every mahalla has association or samiti of mukhtars. This association decides who will play the drum during Sahri during Ramadan.

Salemi Aykut, the head of the Mukhtars of Istanbul city, said, ‘This year I was responsible for choosing who will play the drum in Ramadan. They received training under my supervision.’

Wondering how to train again to play the drums? Salemi Aykut said with a soft smile, ‘This myth of ours is many years old. The tradition has been going on since the distant past. You can say that the tradition has been going on since the time of the Ottoman Empire. It is our duty to preserve its continuity.’The worshipers are being woken up by beating the drum during Sahri.  Photo: Courtesy of Anadolu AgencyThe drummers of the Sahri period were not only trained, but also had different costumes. They wear a kind of colorful dress like Alkhella. He wears a long hat. Salemi Aykut said, ‘This dress is also our tradition. Care is also taken that no one goes out of our culture and wears other clothes and plays the dhol.’

Every night at dawn in the streets of every neighborhood in Istanbul, they wear these clothes and play drums and say a kind of verse. They wake up the worshipers by singing these verses like a song and playing drums. Salemi Aykut said that these verses were also memorized by them.

About one and a half million people live in Istanbul. To wake them up, these drummers go around at least 963 streets of this ancient city and recite verses by playing drums.

Usually the same person plays the drum every year. Some have been playing for 30 years. A person named Ali Bulu said that he has been playing the drum on the streets of Siavuspasa neighborhood in Bahchelivlar district for 45 years. Some even become drummers by inheritance. For example, Bulu’s 10-year-old son Muharram is now learning to play drums with his father.

The worshipers are covered for Sahri by playing drums and singing.  Photo: Taken from XFreshers who want to play have to apply at Mukhtar Association office. It is a profession. There is fixed salary. But many also do the work on a voluntary basis.

Salemi Aykut said, ‘Turks do this with love. No obstacle can stop them during the month of Ramadan. They even did this during the Corona pandemic two years ago. Perhaps this is one of the rare professions in the world, where Corona has not affected.

References: Dail Sabah, Anadolu Agency and TRT World