A Sociological Approach towards the Beliefs and Rituals Regarding Death in Anatolia the Case Of the Region of Elmalı Cover Image

Anadolu’da Ölümle İlgili İnanç ve Uygulamalara Sosyolojik Bir Yaklaşım Elmalı Yöresi Örneği
A Sociological Approach towards the Beliefs and Rituals Regarding Death in Anatolia the Case Of the Region of Elmalı

Author(s): Şaban Erdiç
Subject(s): Sociology, Theology and Religion, Islam studies, Sociology of Culture, Sociology of Religion
Published by: Cumhuriyet Üniversitesi İlahyat Fakültesi
Keywords: Death;Beliefs;Rituals;Anatolia; Elmalı;Sociology of religion;

Summary/Abstract: The beliefs and practices that have been collectively built around the death for a long time have been seen now in reciprocal relations with the unique ecosystem of the Elmalı region. In this historical, religious, socioeconomic and cultural accumulation, an appalling event such as death was settled exclusively in the societal imagination with a final and cosmic reference. In other words, norms and detailed ceremonies with close ties to daily life have created normative integration in society. These rituals revolving around the deep symbolic interactions of religion and culture have provided appropriate environments for the society to face death and to succeed. Finally, all these beliefs and practices have been designed in a religious and cultural interaction where individuals can see their own fate. On the other hand, new levels of consciousness, which are manifested by the modernization of age and age related to death, have also created significant multipliers on the phenomenon through the death case.Death is a versatile phenomenon with dimensions, it is not only a biological event, but also a multi-faceted phenomenon as a religious, social, cultural, and mystical. As in all societies, this event has been designed from the first moment in the accordance with its religious, historical, social in Turkish society and cultural world and accompanied a series of beliefs, imaginations and practices there. Throughout the history of Turkish religion, the phenomenon of death, the structured beliefs and rituals around it, the influence of different religious and cultural circles, and some important historical events, have sometimes reached to this time a certain level of change, transformation and sometimes continuity. This research in this reality has been questioning through a modest Anatolian city, Elmalı which has a long history.This article is about the study of beliefs and practices related to death in Elmalı region in terms of sociological religion. The aim of this research is to explain the relationship between sociocultural, economic, historical and religious accumulation of the region as a crucial transition ritual in terms of death, in a perspective of change, transformation and continuity. The research was planned as an area survey and methodologically aimed to evaluate beliefs, imaginations and rituals related to death on the spot with their specific environment. The research data in this framework was obtained by question-centered interviewing and participatory observation techniques in the semi-standardized interview form with 10 religious officers or imams who worked and performed in Elmalı in August-September 2016 and in January 2017. Observations as well as data collected with the aid of a recorder have been solved by a phenomenological approach after being classified in a tally.Elmalı was located on the 110 km west of Antalya, Burdur is located on the north, Fethiye - Muğla on the west, and Kaş, Demre and Finike on the south. The region has been shown an inner zone characteristic and has evolved from a subsistence agriculture economy that has been around for centuries to a more vibrant economy, such as dense fruit and vegetable farming, in which cereal crops and livestock are also included.This area has possessed a strong religious heritage that has been carried to this day through certain religious figures since the XIV. century. Particularly, a full-fledged reshuffle has been passed and among the local people formed by the peasant and nomadic Turkmen groups, a form of folk religious life against the abstract and theoretical madrasa Islam has been adopted more widely in the last half century. Therefore, this religious environment has had a significant impact on the relocation of ancient religious beliefs and practices to an oral culture today.The beliefs and rituals built around death in Elmalı can be classified during death, after death of a person before the washing, during the washing of the dead, in the funeral, in the cemetery, and on the following days. In every phase, rich and detailed imaginations, accompanied by ceremonies and actions, act as parts of a whole, and each one carries strong ideas, even one that emphasizes a certain life discipline and morality. However, these religious beliefs and practices have many important functions clearer for the immunization of an event that led to a series of individual and social instability in the sense of death and placing a cosmic frame. Of course people have the knowledge that death is natural. But these various religious patterns have shown that the people have more functional information about death.There has been always a strong religious aspect of the phenomenon of death in this region. As a matter of fact, that it was possible to see a strict theological discipline at every stage. In the same way, the phenomenon of death has manifested itself in a very strong social, economic and cultural structure. All the times, places and instruments related to death have been sanctified because of horror and mystery of death. It has been influential in the formation of a certain mentality among the people by putting an ascetic point of view according to the norms accepted by a great majority and having an important place in everyday life in this area. The death ceremonies were not limited to the third, seventh, fortieth, fifty second days of death and its anniversaries. Every ceremony and meeting of religious nature at the same time could be transformed into a ceremony with the same memorial of death. All of this means a social solidarity to establish the lost order, allowing the forgiveness of God to stay away from some evil and unsettling things from the other side. Thus, while the people were seeing their own fate in these kind of ceremonies, and death has been connected to a plan by their future.In fact that we can also imagine this today, we have a socioeconomic function of death when we included the grave sector, which is now entering as a strong era. However, the relationship between death and society has been mutual. Indeed, while death affects itself what it is doing in the region, the social structure and changes there have also had a significant impact on the death situation. The new possibilities, individualization, wealth, prosperity and comfort provided by the municipalities and the headman of the village in this frame of the new consciousness levels, the washing of the dead in this frame have brought the routine and laxity to the very precarious responsibilities motivated by the stronger community character and the stronger in the ritual ceremony. Although the modernization and its new levels of consciousness have brought about a series of changes on death in Elmalı region, it has historically demonstrated a continuity of life with respect to the religious symbiosis, the death of the individual, the ceremonies held on certain days and the desire to remember the dead with goodness.

  • Issue Year: 21/2017
  • Issue No: 1
  • Page Range: 147-178
  • Page Count: 31
  • Language: Turkish