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Blazing enthusiasm at the Brussels Cultural Days

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The Brussels Cultural Days, an initiative by the Association for Belgian-Turkish Friendship and Dialogue (Beltud) in partnership with the school Ecole Des Etoiles, was organized at the school’s dominion in Haren from the 17th to the 20th of May. The Cultural Days were an outstanding event with a variety of artful and cultural activities. Hundreds of volunteers have worked hard to make it a successful festival.

The 4-day event challenged the locals to meet the cultural and artistic heritage of Anatolia, namely Turkish literature, traditional arts such as Hat (calligraphy), Ebru (paper marbling), miniature painting and Tezhip (decorating manuscripts and books with gold and paint). Music, theatre, the Turkish kitchen, a puppet show and traditional and folkloric dances were presented. In the art gallery and book corner literary works, music albums, artisanal works of art, paintings and jewelry were offered for sale. The minizoo of the school, the Bouncy Castle and the marionette workshops provided entertainment for the children. Youngsters were able to enjoy their selves in the Ebru and Calligraphy workshops.
The dance group of the Lucernacollege kicked off the festival on the 17th of May with their choreography of Zeybek, an Aegean dance. Next, the Horon, a dance from the Black Sea region, was performed, followed by a dance from Azerbaijan. In the brand-new event room of Ecole des Etoiles, Emre and Lütfü Ertekin moved the audience with traditional Turkish music. Meanwhile the outdoor stage was taken by the whirling dervishes from Bursa. The closing act was Reyhan Karaca who made the crowd jump to her music. The 5000 visitors were able to enjoy the Turkish delicacies that were prepared by many volunteers.
The audience at the Brussels Cultural Days was very diverse: actors of civil society organizations, culture and art lovers… Women, men, young, old… have all come together at this festival and displayed the diversity of Brussels. Thousands of people who have been sharing their home for the past 50 years, used this opportunity to discuss about different topics such as education, art, culture, sports, music and literature.
We seized this opportunity to inaugurate the event room of the school. ‘This multifunctional room and the festival are a proof of the merit of culture and art’, said Cingöz. ‘It is a pleasure to present the locals such a room together with this festival. People of different cultures come together and exchange thoughts with each other. We cannot thank the volunteers enough for the efforts they have put in this organization that has shown the point that we have come to today on the level of culture and art.’
Writer Iskender Pala and rock group Ayna warm up the second day
Prof. Iskender Pala has over 50 literary works of which several bestsellers under his belt. He has given a conference in the event room and emphasized the importance of the ‘word’. He supported his sayings with poems written by Ottoman emperors. Pala explained that 26 of the 33 Ottoman emperors were prominent poets of their time. ‘In the Ottoman Empire words were more powerful than weapons’, he announced. ‘The enemies were defeated with poetry’. The professor also added that Sultan Mehmet Khan spoke 6 languages fluently at the age of 21, the age he conquered Constantinople. Therefore he regretted that young people nowadays speak with only 350 words. ‘In the 16th century the average citizen spoke with 3500 words, although the literacy rate was low. I advise youngsters to read and catch up this lag’, he concluded. The conference ended with an autograph session.
Meanwhile the folkloric dances and Sufi music made the temperature outside rise. Around 7PM the crowd went loud when Erhan Güleryüz and his band took the stage. Ayna made the ground beneath everyone’s feet shake during the 2 hour concert.
Day 3: something for everyone… a puppet show for children, pop star Murat Basaran for the youngsters and a play for grownups!
The third day of the festival offered something for everyone. The puppet show Karagöz Hacivat was performed twice. Still the 360 seats did not provide enough room for the children, who sat on the stairs and the floor. After the performance a workshop took place at the sports hall of the school, where children could craft their own ‘Karagöz’ or ‘Hacivat’.
Next, the event room was reserved for the parents who watched the play ‘Isik Süvarileri’ (the knights of the light) performed by the actors of the House of the Arts in Ankara. The play’s plot deals with a teacher who practices his profession far away from his fatherland. Some of the audience members winked away a tear moved by the story. Meanwhile fans of Sufism enjoyed a new performance of the whirling dervishes. After the theatre the calligraphy works and Ebru pieces by Mehmet Refii Kileci were auctioned for the school Ecole des Etoiles.
The third day was finished with a concert of pop artist Murat Basaran. The stirring music caused a wave of energy under the youngsters. The singer thanked Beltud and Ecole des Etoiles for the organization and the opportunity the meet his Brussels fans.
Rafet El Roman and Harun Tokak wrapped up the festival with class
Emotions flared up high on the last day of the Brussels Cultural Days with the concert of Rafet El Roman and the conference by Harun Tokak. The day started off with a Karagöz-Hacivat puppet show and the play Isik Süvarileri. The visitors poured in little by little and waited impatiently for the concert of Rafet El Roman. Just before the performance the steamy crowd screamed Rafet’, ‘Beltud’, ‘Fedactio’. When El Roman finally entered the stage he was welcomed by a standing ovation. The audience sang along with the songs at the top of their longs. The pop artist took the opportunity to remind the audience that this was a charity concert for the benefit of Ecole des Etoiles and the future College des Etoiles. He also mentioned that he supported these schools and came to Brussels to make a contribution to this pedagogical project.
The festival finished with a conference and autograph session by author Harun Tokak. The 4-day festival was visited by thousands of visitors and was a huge success according to the locals. Many visitors praised the initiative, where young and old could enjoy their selves in a familial atmosphere.
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