Little Drummer Boy

August this year is the month of Ramazan, the Islamic month of fasting. Many Turkish visitors have returned home to be replaced by pallid-skinned north Europeans and their summer break sprogs. Pious Moslems are not meant to eat, drink or indulge their vices between sunrise and sunset.

Ramazan commemorates the time when the first verses of the Koran were revealed to Mohammed. This period of self-denial is intended to teach Muslims about patience, spirituality, humility and submissiveness to God. It’s not dissimilar to the Christian Lent which commemorates Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness and his temptation by Satan. The purpose of Lent is to prepare the believer, through prayer, repentance, alms giving and self-denial, for the annual rite of Easter and the ultimate sacrifice.

As with last year, I’ve noticed little obvious religious observance around us. However, that doesn’t stop our sleep being disrupted by the Ramazan drummer boy who performs throughout the old town each morning at 4am. This time honoured tradition is intended to wake the Faithful so that they can fill their bellies before daybreak. What a racket. Has nobody heard of alarm clocks in this day and age? Apparently the tradition is banned in much of Turkey but then so is the ritual slaughter of sheep by the untrained during Kurban Bayram (the feast of sacrifice), talking on mobile phones while driving and not paying staff until the end of the season.

12 thoughts on “Little Drummer Boy

  1. Despite the fact that I have some very devout Muslim friends here in Spain, who observe Ramadan (and other aspects of their religion) piously, I am always a little confused that others of their religious persuasion feel justified in the ritual slaughter of the goat thing, and, further, that they are happy to steal it first.


  2. Or in many cases not paying staff at all…of which my husband has had firsthand experience!

    Fortunately, because we are high on the hill of our village,the drummer usually doesn’t bother to come up this far (nor does the man with the tractor who empties the rubbish bin)


    1. It’s a depressing reality that many laws are in place but aren’t enforced. The reason I added this sting to the post is we have a young Turkish friend who didn’t get paid for ages (he did in the end). We looked up Turkish employment law for him and it’s all there in black and white but what was he to do? Withdraw his labour and get sacked? Sorry to hear about your husband. I hope it was one off. So you live on pong hill, then?


      1. Unfortunately Jack it wasn’t a one-off. It’s happened far too many times. If we had all the money owing to him now, we wouldn’t be so bloody hard up!

        Ah yes…pong hill most definitely.


  3. I am rather surprised and dismayed at the comments on here regarding the Ramazan drummer.This is a tradition of the month and as much a part as the Shadow Plays,Ramazan pide and Gullaç.I lived for a time in a neighbourhood of Istanbul where the durmming had been banned and missed it greatly.I now live in a village near a provinical city and the drummer is heard each Ramazan and welcomed.
    Instead of complaining about the ‘racket’spend a moment saying Thank You for all the benefits and comforts you are lucky enough to have each day and if you can’t get back to sleep then get up and do some work in the
    cooler morning air.
    How would you feel if a moslem in the UK critised the church bells every Sunday morning?
    I am not saying that one cannot critise anything in Turkey but really,I would have thought contributors to this blog would be above such a colonial
    attitude as this 😦

    Long live the Ramazan drummer!

    to sleep and if yo ucan’t sleep then get up and soem soe mwrok and enjoy the cool morning air.


    1. Please don’t be sad. Perking the Pansies is a satirical take on our lives as ridiculous expats in Turkey mixed with the mildest criticism of our generous hosts. Your point is well made and no offence is intended. We love many of the unfamiliar traditions in our fosterland. Last night Liam got up and waved at the drummer boy. We Brits love to moan about lack of sleep, it’s steeped in our own tradition! I’m afraid the days of church bells calling the Faithful to Sunday service are pretty much over in most parts of Britain. Certainly, if they rang at 3am there would be questions in Parliament!


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