Yörük - Religion and Expressive Culture

Religious Beliefs. Sunni Islam (Hanefi school) is a major force in Yörük society. Most adults tithe, males attend mosque services once a week or when possible, and children are trained by privately or communally engaged tutors.

Yörük beliefs conform to those common among rural-dwelling Sunni Muslims of Turkey. Like many rural dwellers, they frequent local shrines and consult soothsayers and faith healers. Some participate in Sufi or Dervish brotherhood rites, among them those of the Kaderli sect.

Religious Practitioners. Although devout, very few Yörük males train for the Muslim clergy; most leaders of congregations and itinerant clergymen, healers, soothsayers, and teachers are thus non-Yörük. Like many rural Muslims, they believe in the "evil eye" and take steps to ward off its effects, which are particularly threatening to young children, livestock, and women.

Ceremonies. The religious calendar follows that of Sunni Islam. The fast of Ramazan is closely observed. Wealthy men will likely attempt to make the hajj to Mecca, and Sunni ceremonies commemorating the dead are important. Boys are circumcised, although this is not as major a ritual ceremony as it is among some other Muslim groups. The most secular ceremony is the wedding; weddings frequently last three days and involve significant expenditures for entertainment on the part of the groom's family. These are major occasions for widely dispersed households to meet and socialize.

Arts. Yörük musical arts, which have been under pressure from religious leaders, have languished, and most music for weddings is now provided by Gypsies. Young men often compose love poems, and women may sing and dance at weddings, but separately from men; women weave flat-woven textiles and rugs and make felt rugs of elaborate design.

Medicine. Clinics and modern health-care facilities are available to the Yörük; in addition, they frequently rely on folk remedies and healers.

Death and Afterlife. In accord with standard Sunni belief, burial takes place on the day of death, if possible. Bodies are washed, shrouded, and buried; commemorative rites held at designated dates after death are more important than the actual burial ceremony.

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