The centerpiece of the festival is a procession called Khalkek, in which several men dress up in costume and parade around their town or village. One of the performers, representing the outgoing Sultan, wears a white beard and carries a cane, or other accessories of old age. Another performer, representing the world itself, is made up as a beautiful woman. A third performer, representing the incoming Sultan, is dressed as a young man with a blackened face – it is said that his face is dark because his star has only just begun to rise in the world of ‘batın’ (the inner, spiritual world), and its light is not yet able to be cast into the outer world (that will have to wait until March, at which time he will actually claim his throne)


While musicians beat drums and play zurnas (oboe-like wind instruments), these three characters, sometimes joined by others in traditional dress, go from door to door, house to house, shop to shop, collecting food and, nowadays, money


Traditionally, all of the food would be brought to the home of the poorest family in the village, where a feast is prepared, with the family keeping the leftovers. Today, in Ovacik, the food and money is distributed to a number of needy families. And rather than a meal being held at someone’s home, a party is hosted at the Belediye (city hall) at night, for the entire town – the highlight of which is a show by a local cultural performance group, which specializes in comedies in which half of the men in the troupe are dressed in drag – like a rural Kurdish Monty Python routine. People love it, and laugh their way toward the new year.