Other Customs, Stories, and Beliefs

of the Munzur Valley

 

 

Along with the core Alevi values of being kind, generous and fair to other people, and treating the natural world as a sacred creation, there are many unique beliefs and customs found in the Munzur Valley. Some of these are shared with Alevis in other parts of Turkey, while some are native only to Dersim. Due to the forced displacement of Alevi Kurds from Dersim over the last 80 years (see the ‘Dark Days’ section for more on this), as well as the voluntary migration to cities with greater educational and professional opportunities, many traditions in Munzur have begun to gradually fade over the last several generations. Here, we present some of those that remain strongest today.

 
 

GAĞAN: 

 

According to Alevi belief, the world remains a permanent fixture of the cosmos, year in and year out. Each year, however, is ruled by a different “Sultan of the turning time.” Following summer solstice, as the days begin to grow shorter, the Sultan, likewise, grows older. By the end of the year, he is ready to pass on his temporal kingdom to the next Sultan – which is really a renewed, yet distinct, version of himself, growing younger as the days grow longer. 

 
 

On the last Thursday of December, just after winter solstice, the festival of Gağan is held, ushering out the old year - and the old Sultan - and welcoming in the new.