Circumcision Parties Are A Rite Of Passage In Turkey

Circumcision Parties Are A Rite Of Passage In Turkey

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On a Sunday morning at the Sünnet Sarayi (Circumcision Palace) in Istanbul, groups of seven and eight year old boys are paraded around in glitzy costumes reminiscent of Ottoman Sultans. Excited and nervous, they are preparing for their circumcision. The ritual is considered the first step in the passage from boyhood to manhood, and on this day each boy is a little Sultan in the eyes of his admiring family.

The Sünnet Sarayi was established in 1976 by Kemal Özka, one of Turkey’s most adored traditional figures. Özkan claims to have circumcised more than 125,000 children during his lifetime, more than half of which he did without charge for local councils and municipalities throughout Turkey.

Bradley Secker

Before the knife cuts, the children dance for their families, get entertained by a clown, and are given a ride on a football shaped train. Parents sit at large tables around the room and cheer for their kids.

When the time comes to perform the operation, the mini Sultans are seated in a large red velvet throne opposite of the late Mr. Özkan’s son and his assistant. Families gather around, looking through excited and nervous eyes. While the ceremony takes place, a religious leader recites verses from the Quran to add the religious element to the celebration. After the procedure that lasts a few seconds, the boys are catapulted on the dance floor below to celebrate with their parents.

The finer details are performed shortly afterwards in a medical facility backstage, where the boys are checked over by a doctor. During the check up they are given an iPad to entertain them. Once the check up is finished, the surreal clash of past and present traditions is over.

Arda (left) and Yizit (right) after their traditional circumcision.

Bradley Secker

Bradley Secker

Bradley Secker

Yahya Kemal Ãœnal after his circumcision in Sariyer, a town on the Bosphorus coastline north of Istanbul.

Bradley Secker

A patient uses an iPad as a distraction whilst he is being checked over by Dr Levent Ozken before leaving the circumcision palace for his coming of age 'Sünnet' day. Istanbul, Turkey.

Bradley Secker

Bradley Secker

Bradley Secker

Mehmet Karakum after his traditional circumcision in Sariyer.

Bradley Secker

Bradley Secker

Bradley Secker

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