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Crossing the Red Sea, a wall painting from the 1640s in Yaroslavl, Russia.

Kakava is a celebration event of Romani people. Its place of origin is Egypt and Front Asia. According to Gypsy/Roma mythology and belief, Kakava is the transformation of miraculous events to “a belief” based on oppression towards another society in times of ancient Egypt God-King pharaoh living together with Kopt people (Kıpti people) (Copts).


Events starts with mirtaculous escape of people getting oppressed in Egypt. While following them, Pharaoh’s army with all soldiers is drowned within the sea. The rest believes that again a “Savior” would come and rescue them because the Savior is immortal. Gypsies go down to the edge of a river at the 6 May that they decided as the day "Rescue Event" had happened. They go in river for the memory of the miraculous day. Main source of joy is the immortality of the Savior. For that reason, they entertain madly.[1]

Kakava in Turkey[edit]

Dancing Roma women by music during Kakava 2015 in Edirne.
Dancing women to Roma music during Kakava 2015 in Edirne.

In Turkey's western cities of Edirne and Kırklareli, Kakava is celebrated joyfully. Fortune defaulting, wishing, lighting fire and jumping over the fire, burning old furniture, having picnic by the waterside, lamb‐goat barbecue, music, dance and intent pot are the most common activities during Kakava. Invitation cards of "Old Edirne Kakava" were quite interesting. These festivities used to be held in Şeytan Deresi (literally: Devil’s River) in Kırklareli.

Kakava celebration in Edirne took nowadays the form of an international festival, which is also supported by the governor and the mayor of Edirne. The official part of the Kakava festival takes place in Sarayiçi, the place where traditional Kırkpınar oil-wrestling tournament is held each year. After lighting the fire and jumping over it, music playing and dancing is performed. The official part ends after the distribution of rice dish pilaf to the around 5,000 attendees. The celebration continues in the dawn of the next day at the bank of Tunca River.[2][3][4]

Intent Pot[edit]

Mountain flowers and buttons, rings and other small accessories are collected from all the youngs in one of the pots while pieces of paper with lyrics are collected in another one. The two pots are placed under a rose bush. In the morning of 6 May, accessories and a paper with lyrics are taken from the pots one by one. The lyrics are read to the concerned person while having fun. In some regions, only one pot is used.

The lyrics are read by an experienced individual or by the whole group. Before or after each lyric, an accessory is drawn from the pot and the individual to whom the lyrics will be referred to is determined. This event is called “mortufal” or “mantıfar” in some regions, where the word is most probably derived from the root “martaval”. The activity of choosing the sets of songs in radio and dedicating these to specific individuals may be seen as a different version of this tradition.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Karaçam, quoted in Alpman, 1997:98-99
  2. ^ "Kakava’da ateş yakıldı". Hürriyet (in Turkish). 2011-05-06. Retrieved 2011-05-07. 
  3. ^ "Edirne'de Kakava coşkusu". Sabah (in Turkish). 2011-05-06. Retrieved 2011-05-07. 
  4. ^ Marushiakova, Elena and Vesselin Popov. 2007. The vanished kurban: Modern dimensions of the celebration of Kakava/Hıdırellez among the Gypsies in Eastern Thrace (Turkey). In: Sikimić, Bilijana and Petko Hristov, eds. Kurban on the Balkans. Belgrade: Institute of Balkan Studies, 33-50. https://www.academia.edu/6987191/The_vanished_kurban_Modern_dimensions_of_the_celebration_of_Kakava_Hidrellez_among_the_Gypsies_in_Eastern_Thrace_Turkey.

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