Turkish Mosque Lights Tell the Faithful to Stay Home During Ramadan

Mahya reads "life fits at home" is seen installed between the minarets of Yeni New mosque, as the outbreak of the coronavirus continues in Istanbul, Turkey, April 27, 2020. (Reuters)
Mahya reads "life fits at home" is seen installed between the minarets of Yeni New mosque, as the outbreak of the coronavirus continues in Istanbul, Turkey, April 27, 2020. (Reuters)
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Turkish Mosque Lights Tell the Faithful to Stay Home During Ramadan

Mahya reads "life fits at home" is seen installed between the minarets of Yeni New mosque, as the outbreak of the coronavirus continues in Istanbul, Turkey, April 27, 2020. (Reuters)
Mahya reads "life fits at home" is seen installed between the minarets of Yeni New mosque, as the outbreak of the coronavirus continues in Istanbul, Turkey, April 27, 2020. (Reuters)

The traditional lighting that hangs between the minarets of Turkish mosques, usually packed for evening prayers in the holy month of Ramadan, is urging Turks to stay at home this year as the country battles the coronavirus pandemic.

Known as "mahya", the tradition of stringing up devotional messages in lights from the soaring minarets of Istanbul's Ottoman-era mosques is unique to Turkey and dates back hundreds of years.

The process of hanging the lights is overseen by masters of the art. Working from sketches, they set lightbulbs on cords to spell out the desired message, before rolling them onto ropes draped between the minarets of the mosque using a pulley.

Suspended between the minarets, the lights normally declare religious messages in huge letters, visible from afar and intended to reward and inspire the faithful who have spent the daylight hours fasting, reported Reuters.

This year, with Turkey at the peak of coronavirus outbreak at the start of the fasting month of Ramadan, the messages are different.

Kahraman Yildiz, one of the last remaining experts on the art, wears a mask for the first time in his long career as he hangs the lights between two minarets of the 400-year-old New Mosque in Istanbul's Fatih district.

"We were giving nice religious messages during the month of Ramadan. This month, something different happened because of this pandemic," he says.

"We are sharing (messages) related to that," Kahraman adds, unfurling the string of lights that read: "Life fits at home".

He then begins hanging the lights one by one on a rope between the minarets as he and his colleagues carefully abide by social distancing rules in a city which has borne the brunt of Turkey's 112,000 confirmed coronavirus cases.

The lights are lit every evening during Ramadan at the time of the call to prayer that announces the end to the day's fast.

"Mahyas have given beautiful messages with excerpts from verses (of the Quran) ... for centuries. But this year for the first time, we have mahyas that we hung up aimed at protecting our health," said Burhan Ersoy, General Director of Foundations.

He said other examples included, "Stay responsible, stay healthy," and "Stay home, stay healthy".



Riyadh Hosts International Chemistry Olympiad 2024

Riyadh hosts the 56th edition of the International Chemistry Olympiad 2024 (IChO 2024) from July 21 to 30. (SPA)
Riyadh hosts the 56th edition of the International Chemistry Olympiad 2024 (IChO 2024) from July 21 to 30. (SPA)
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Riyadh Hosts International Chemistry Olympiad 2024

Riyadh hosts the 56th edition of the International Chemistry Olympiad 2024 (IChO 2024) from July 21 to 30. (SPA)
Riyadh hosts the 56th edition of the International Chemistry Olympiad 2024 (IChO 2024) from July 21 to 30. (SPA)

Riyadh hosts the 56th edition of the International Chemistry Olympiad 2024 (IChO 2024) from July 21 to 30, the Saudi Press Agency said on Sunday.
The event is organized by the King Abdulaziz and his Companions Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity "Mawhiba”, in strategic partnership with the Ministry of Education and King Saud University (KSU), which will host the competition.
The IChO 2024, exclusively sponsored by Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC), will feature 333 students from 90 countries, with oversight, evaluation, and judging by 260 chemistry experts.
Students will compete for 10 honorary certificates, 110 bronze medals, 70 silver medals, and 35 gold medals. The final results will be announced on July 28 at 11 PM.
This annual scientific competition is the largest international chemistry contest for general education students.
Since its establishment in Prague, Czechoslovakia, in 1968, the competition has been held annually over ten days, with a different host country each year.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia participated as an observer in 2004 and 2005, then with students in 2006 and 2007. The Kingdom returned to participate as an observer in 2008, 2009, and 2010, and has since participated with students from 2011 up to present.
The Kingdom’s hosting of the IChO 2024 reflects the excellence of Saudi students on the international stage and enhances the Kingdom's status as a leading global destination in various scientific fields.