Ramazan Bayramı: “when our bonds are strengthened, joys and pains are shared,” says Ambassador Oya Tuncalı

Ambassador Oya Tuncalı, the London Representative for the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus, has used her annual Eid / Ramazan Bayramı message to wish for “hope and love”, while underlining the need for “unity” within Britain’s Turkish Cypriot community.

The ambassador also stressed the importance of “the preservation and continuation of our cultural values” for those living away from their homeland.

The short statement, given in full below, was made ahead of the start of Ramazan Bayramı, or Eid al-Fitr, starts tonight, Wednesday 12 May.

In Muslim majority countries, such as Turkey and North Cyprus, there is a three-day public holiday Cyprus to celebrate the end of the 30-day fast of Ramazan. It is a period when religious and cultural traditions come together.

While this year’s Bayram in the UK, as elsewhere, will be muted due to the coronavirus pandemic, the relaxing of rules means that there can be outdoor gatherings, as well as socially distanced indoor worship.

For many, the first day of Bayram starts with early morning prayers at the mosque, where those who have been fasting give thanks for being able to complete the full-term.

Many will visit the cemetery on the eve of Bayram or during the three days to pay their respects to their loved ones who have passed.

Muslims will dress in their best clothes to visit relatives and close friends, starting with their immediate elders. Like Christmas, they will also give each other gifts. Children kiss their elders’ right hand and, according to Turkish tradition, they often get given money for the respect they have shown.

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They also end up eating lots of rich food at Bayram, including sweet desserts such as baklava and ekmek kadayıfı (a bread pudding with clotted cream). These rich sweets are usually avoided during Ramazan to aid fasting, as high-sugar foods can result in insulin spikes and make the body dehydrated. But after 30 days of going without, many do crave sugary foods – it’s one of the reasons Turks call this holiday Şeker Bayramı (Sweet Eid).

Message to the Turkish Cypriot community from Ambassador Tuncalı

Dear valuable members of the Turkish Cypriot community in the United Kingdom.

Although we are experiencing a different Ramazan this year due to the continuing coronavirus, we are still happy to be able to celebrate this time with you, our beloved community members in the United Kingdom, and to share our love and friendship, even if it is through social distancing.

Our Bayrams, which have a very special place among our Community, are a time when our bonds are strengthened, joys and pains are shared and a helping hand is extended to those in need.

Our citizens, associations and business people have provided even more strength to our community by offering moral and material support on the occasion of Ramazan.

Our Representative Office is also continuing to work towards supporting the solidarity and wellbeing of our citizens.

Every Bayram that we celebrate away from our country is important for our unity as a community, as well as the preservation and continuation of our cultural values.

I would like to wish all our citizens a happy, healthy Ramazan Bayramı filled with hope and love, and I appreciate this important and special time when values such as tolerance and solidarity are kept alive by our community.