Sacred Space, Ritual and Food: The Rain Prayer Practices and Zomata Custom in Turkmen Baba, Eskisehir

Koç A.

MILLI FOLKLOR, vol.135, no.135, pp.135-147, 2022 (AHCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 135 Issue: 135
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Journal Name: MILLI FOLKLOR
  • Journal Indexes: Arts and Humanities Citation Index (AHCI), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, International Bibliography of Social Sciences, Linguistics & Language Behavior Abstracts, MLA - Modern Language Association Database, TR DİZİN (ULAKBİM)
  • Page Numbers: pp.135-147
  • Keywords: ICH, folk beliefs, ancestor cult, tomb, somat
  • Eskisehir Osmangazi University Affiliated: Yes


Sacred places, namely the Center, have always attracted the attention of humanity. Here, the aspirants seek the solution of the problem they cannot overcome in real life, sometimes with full faith and sometimes with half faith. While some of the holy places are included in the worship principles of the official religion, some places can be seen as folk religion or superstition. Sometimes, some practices in places accepted by the official religion are rejected. However, the aspirant who wants to experience the transformative power of the holy place also finds a solution: syncretism. These syncretic practices can sometimes be performed even by aspirants belonging to two different religions. The important point is that the holy place has enough fame. Many holy places are still visited, but with the acceleration of migration from rural to urban, it is a matter of curiosity how and how long they will maintain their past fame and protection due to urban life and technology. Turkmen Baba cult can be accepted as a part of cultural continuity in Eskisehir with similar examples from the Turkish world to Anatolia as a reflection of the unity of the ancestral culture with the belief in Islam. The "Turkmen Baba " on the mountain peak between the Dagkuplu and Tandir villages in Eskisehir was made a sacred site for Hacet holiday and rain prayer by thirteen villages people and a number of rituals were developed around it. Rituals, in terms of both religiously and socially, have the power to regulate people's behavior among themselves and the relationship between human beings and supernatural beings. The places where the rituals take place also carry the "central symbolism " feature, especially as M. Eliade describes. An important means of linking ritual dimension to the relationships which we can divide as human-god, human-supernatural, human-human is "food ". From first time to the present, from the primitive to the modern, food has multi-dimensional functions. "Zomata ", a part of ritual in terms of arranging the social relations of those gathering for the Hacet / rain prayer around Turkmen Baba, has a versatile function. Those who prepare and eat Zomata do not know who contributes. The aim is to ensure that people from every economic level "come together " by social function. Thus, crowded group of people is very important in terms of ritualization for especially hacet (wish, need) / rain prayer. The secret power lies here in terms of the food of function of gathering. Those who live abroad but cannot come to the holiday also make an economical contribution to ritual life. Zomata is remarkable both in terms of preparation and presentation. Two meals, pre-ceremony and pray and post-visit accompanied by practices. The villagers who come together not only pray for rain, but also talk about the situation of villages, animals and fields, and look for solutions to their problems. Thus ends the ceremony. This ceremony is considered both as a prayer for rain, a prayer of gratitude, and a feast of hacet (need). Zomata culture seems to be adaptable to the new city in terms of redesigning the cultural heritage in urban life and ensuring unity and solidarity in the context of sustainability, intergenerational communication and solidarity by getting rid of the feeling of loneli-ness.