The Edmond Sun

April 29, 2013

Turkish festival highlights culture in Oklahoma

William F. O'Brien
The Edmond Sun

OKLA. CITY — Several weeks ago young men in bright red Turkish historical costumes stood on Classen Boulevard in the MidCity area and welcomed people to the Turkish Festival at the Raindrop Foundation on that thoroughfare.  In the main hall of the foundation building a line of smiling women of Turkish heritage who now live in the Oklahoma City area made a variety of Turkish and Mediterranean foods that were dispensed to festival patrons. The women who were preparing the Turkish pastry toward the end of the line were working with elongated thin rolling pins and it was explained that those are used in Turkish cooking.

A tall young man in a dark blue robe and a brown turban explained that he was dressed as the Turkish Sultan. The main hallway featured posters of famous sites in Turkey, including the Topkapi Palace and Blue Mosque that are located in the Turkish capital of Istanbul. Other posters told of the history of the Turkish Empire and how it at one time included the Middle East and sizable portions of both Europe and Asia.

Several different exhibits were made available throughout the day, and one of the more popular ones  demonstrated the Turkish art form that has become known in English as water marbling. It consists of placing bright colors of paint in a tray of water and stirring them and then placing a page of newsprint in the tray. The paint adheres to the newsprint and when it is removed from the tray it is transformed into a page of bright colors. The artist that presided over that exhibit gave the works of art that resulted from it to the patrons who were present.

Several Turkish artists who work in ceramics, including  one, Morad Jasim, who is based in Houston, but sells his work primarily in Turkey and the Middle East, offered their work for sale at the event. Jasim explained that  his ceramics, which feature birds, flowers and sailing vessels, are hand-painted by him.    

A Turkish woman who now lives in Edmond, Sevim Cumpian, offered samples of the Turkish cheese that she  offers for sale. Cumpian explained that she is a native of Turkey who met her American husband when he was stationed at an American Air Force Base in the Turkish Republic. She recently began to make and sell the cheese out of her home, and that she is grateful to the people of Edmond for the warm welcome that she has received from them.

Many  different groups of Turkish dancers in traditional costumes performed as well, and many of the attendees used cell phone cameras to capture images of them. There also was a solo performance by a young man who was identified as a whirling dervish. A brief film was shown before he began his performance explained that whirling dervishes are based primarily in Turkey, and are part of the Sufi tradition of Islam that stresses the connection of all people and faiths to God. They dance to celebrate that connection. The film included footage of Muslims, Jews, Christians and Buddhists at prayer. He whirling dervish answered questions about his tradition from patrons after he completed his dancing.

Orhan Kucukosman of the Raindrop Foundation reported that close to 3,000 people attended the festival and that it is the fourth year that it has been held. Kucukosman also thanked the Kirkpatrick Foundation for its support of the event and said that that foundation’s generosity assisted in bringing the artists to Oklahoma City for the festival.

WILLIAM F. O’BRIEN is a retired Oklahoma City attorney.