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  • trh@xxxxxx.xxx
    x0x More on Mesir Macunu ... * The Manisa Mesir Macunu (Power Gum) Festival was held this year for the 459th time and proved to be more popular than ever.
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 30, 1999
      x0x More on "Mesir Macunu"...

      * The Manisa Mesir Macunu (Power Gum) Festival was held this year
      for the 459th time and proved to be more popular than ever.
      Thousands of people converged on the city, bringing all forms of
      transport to a nearly complete standstill. They were keen to
      sample the special sweet that is reputed to ensure health and hope
      for their future -- it is also said to have aphrodisiac
      properties. Piling into the area around the minaret of one of the
      mosques, the swarms of visitors were largely disappointed in their
      attempt to catch some of the candy as it was thrown into the
      crowd. And many people, especially the elderly and children,
      suffered injuries from being crushed in the crowd. Very few lucky
      people managed to get hold of some of the 10 tons of the candy
      with the legendary magical properties


      Izmir - Turkish Daily News

      Over the course of four days, the Manisa Mesir Macunu Festival, which
      has been held since 1527, brought together all of the city's residents
      and visitors from all over the country as more than 100,000 people
      filled the area around the Sultan Mosque in the hope of catching some
      "Mesir Macunu" (Power Gum) and turning their fortunes around.

      The festival normally coincides with "Nevruz" (the Persian New Year),
      March 21, but this year it began a month later, on April 22. It
      includes a variety of cultural activities, including exhibitions,
      concerts, competitions and balls. On the last day of the festival, in
      the morning, the final part of the festivities begins with a march, at
      the end of which the people gather around Sultan Mosque for the
      highlight: the scattering of the Mesir Macunu.

      manisa1.jpg (38261 bytes) On Sunday, the last day of this year's
      festival, the good weather brought out an unusually large number of
      people, filling the area around the mosque almost to the bursting
      point. Many started gathering there early in the morning so as not to
      miss out, with some of them bringing umbrellas that they held upside
      down above their heads to enhance their chances of getting some Mesir
      Macunu when it began raining down on the waiting hopefuls from the

      The people believe that consuming the candy will protect them from
      pain, especially that of snake and insect bites, until the next
      festival; it is also reputed to have an aphrodisiac effect. It is
      believed that this special candy gives health and power to people
      because it is made from 41 different spices.

      Over 450 years ago, a local pharmacist named Merkez Muslihiddin Efendi
      concocted a special potion to cure a mysterious ailment that afflicted
      Ayse Hafza Sultan, the mother of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent. The
      queen mother, delighted with her swift recovery, ordered that the
      amazing elixir be distributed to the people of Manisa at the same time
      every year from the minaret of Sultan Mosque by the muezzin at her
      expense. In fact, the Ottomans had a longstanding custom of eating
      spiced sweets at Nevruz. Such festivals date back some 5,000 years and
      were held throughout Mesopotamia. It is known that the region around
      Manisa had similar festivals from about 200 B.C. onward, when King
      Mithridates distributed a sweet made from 54 spices that was said to
      protect people from the ills of nature, especially snake bites and
      malarial mosquitoes, as well as to protect himself from being poisoned
      in an assassination attempt. Some people believe that if a young woman
      eats some Mesir Macunu, she will easily be able to fall in love and
      will be married within the year.

      manisa2.jpg (26557 bytes) Although the exact recipe is a closely
      guarded secret, it is known that Mesir Macunu is made from 41
      different spices, including mustard, cinnamon, ginger, anise, coconut,
      cumin and others. The candy is prepared a day in advance, and the
      preparation includes a public religious ceremony with readings from
      the Koran. Also, the history of Mesir Macunu is acted out, with the
      character of Merkez Efendi being portrayed in an almost wizardly role,
      pointing to the various ingredients and getting his assistants to mix
      them all together. Once the elixir has been made, it is packaged up,
      traditionally by virginal girls.

      History of Manisa

      The site of the ancient town of Magnesia, Manisa lies at a distance of
      about 45 kilometers from Izmir and is easily reached by train, an
      enjoyable journey of about an hour that twists through the green
      mountains. The 14th century Arab traveler, Ibn Battuta, described
      Manisa as "a large and beautiful city built on a mountain slope, in
      whose territory are many rivers, springs and fruitful orchards."
      Today, Manisa is a pleasant town of around 160,000 inhabitants,
      somewhat overshadowed by Izmir but retaining much of its ancient
      charm. Over 90 percent of the historic downtown was destroyed by the
      Greek Army during their 1922 retreat, so that today the town has a
      modern feel. Despite this, it is still possible to come across some
      older vestiges that date back to Ottoman times. Manisa is home to a
      fascinating museum and remains an interesting place, with a number of
      fine Seljuk and Ottoman monuments scattered throughout the city, such
      as tombs, caravansaries, mosaics and the like.

      The town has changed hands and been argued over many times since it
      was first founded, according to Homer, after the Trojan War by
      warriors from the area. Alexander the Great passed through during his
      campaign, and in 190 B.C. there was a huge battle there between the
      Romans and Syrians, under King Antioch III. The day was decided in
      favor of the Romans by the cavalry of the king of Pergamon. For a
      short time during the 13th century, Manisa was the capital of the
      Byzantine Empire after the sacking of Istanbul during the Fourth

      In 1313, the city fell into the hands of the Seljuk chieftain, Saruhan
      Bey, and it is from this period that the earliest of Manisa's
      surviving monuments date. Later, the Ottomans sent heirs to the throne
      here to serve an apprenticeship as local governors in order to ready
      them for the rigors of Istanbul palace life.

      The Sultan Mosque, which is used in the Mesir Macunu Festival, was
      built in 1522 by the architect Acem Alisi for Ayse Hafza, the mother
      of Suleyman the Magnificent, who lived here with her son while he was
      serving as governor. This rectangular mosque is much wider than it is
      deep, and its single central dome is flanked by two pairs of satellite
      domes. The decor is plain except for the blue-and-ochre paint that
      frames the windows and colors most of the mosque's curved surfaces.

      Manisa: An industrial city

      Nowadays, Manisa is a modern and industrial city with huge amounts of
      investment, organized industrial zones and a university. It is a very
      important place in the Aegean region due to its population and the
      fact that it is located a mere stone's throw from the regional
      capital, Izmir. Many domestic and overseas companies operate factories
      in Manisa.
      Copyright 1999, Turkish Daily News. This article is redistributed with
      permission for personal use of TRKNWS-L readers. No part of this article
      may be reproduced, further distributed or archived without the prior
      permission of the publisher. Contact: Turkish Daily News Online on the
      Internet World Wide Web. www.turkishdailynews.com

      For information on other matters please contact hk11@...
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