Every spring for the past 500 years, Turkey has been celebrating the traditional Mesir Festival in the city of Manisa. Not only does the event encompass parades, concerts, and exhibits, but also the throwing of spices.
Mesir, also known as “power gum,” is a blend of 41 different spices made into a thick paste. The story of its origin is that the wife of the Ottoman Sultan Yavuz Sultan Selim and the mother of Süleyman the Magnificient, Hafsa Sultan, became very sick while she was in Manisa. Since there were no known treatments at the time, a concoction of herbs and spices was created, and actually ended up curing the ill woman. After that, mesir became a popular remedy for sick patients.
So how was the Mesir Festival born? Once demand for the cure grew, the mixture was wrapped in paper and thrown from the Sultan Mosque once each year. Now, thousands of people who attend the festival can stand at the bottom of the mosque and catch their own healing mesir paste. Other festival highlights to look forward to include skeet shooting matches, a canine beauty competition, a traditional mesir paste mixing ceremony, live music in the park, a Ukrainian art exhibit, and much more.
The Mesir Festival will take place this year on March 21-25, 2012. If you’d like to practice some traditional Mesir Festival singing to get you in the mood for the celebration, click here to listen to the official Mesir Festival song. For information on the celebration in general, click here.