Fethiye’s Nomad Museum owner, Enver Yalçin hosts what he claims to be the world’s first wedding between two donkeys.

The weather was very warm and humid on May 15th but unfortunately it was not a sunny start to the day when two donkeys, Duman and Linda got ‘married’, becoming the first beasts of burden or to Karakaçan (Servants of Allah) to be married in Turkey, if not the world.

There was a good crowd: television, journalists and guests, all curious to see what would happen at this strange event. Enver Yalçın, owner of the male donkey and the Nomad Museum in Kargı, Fethiye had sent out some 3,000invitations and was hoping for crowds up to 10,000 but not all the guests chose to come.

In the end no more than a few hundred wedding guests showed up over the course of the day. Nevertheless, the wedding between the two donkeys took place on schedule in Kargı and Günlükbaşı, near Fethiye, Muğla on Saturday 15th May and was deemed to be a great success by all.

A group of musicians playing traditional wedding music on loud, vibrating davuls (drums) and zournas (a uniquely loud reed instrument), which whipped up a lively atmosphere and got everyone in the mood for a party. Duman contributed a solo or two of his own to the occasion.

In reality, this was a good opportunity for Turks and foreigners to get together and have a party. Dressed in bridal regalia, female donkey and shy bride, Linda waited nervously in Günlükbaşı with her family, Elaine and Michael Adkin. Meanwhile, the donkey groom and his family, Aysun and Enver Yalçin, were all decked out in their traditional nomadic finery.

Close friends lead the way in a truck, waving a large union jack and Turkish flag, celebrating the multicultural aspect of the equine union. They were followed by the musicians and the matrimonial pickup bedecked with ribbons, transported the groom to his bride.

In yet another truck were a gaggle of journalists, struggling with their cameras as they leaned precariously over the side of the truck, trying to get the best view. These were followed by the usual line of cars – all travelling at a stately pace with horns a-honking. It must have been an unusual sight for the helicopter flying overhead!

The cortege wound there way to Günlükbaşı and arrived a little behind schedule. Elaine later pointed out that in the UK it is usually the bride’s prerogative to be late – not the groom but soon the musicians had struck up their hypnotic, rhythmic music once again and the two donkeys were formally introduced.

There was an incident coinciding with the arrival of the groom and his entourage arrived when a group of youths and an old man started a scuffle. Yalçin himself intervened and calmed things down.

When asked what it was like trying to organise such a large wedding Michael admitted that he hadn’t had any sleep the previous night and that it was much more exhausting that he had anticipated. “I never imagined how much needed to be done but as we have been friends with Enver and Aysun for a long time it is a great way to get together. Of course, I hope Linda will be very happy with her new husband. Maybe they will start a family soon.”

Yalçin’s speech was much longer: he is a larger than life man who takes no little pleasure in drawing attention to the loss of nomadic traditions and the importance of remembering the importance of this mountain culture in Turkey. For him the wedding was also a wonderful way to advertise his family run business, serving huge all-day Turkish breakfasts. Certainly in the tough economic market any opportunity to attract a crowd and the press has to be taken. He certainly succeeded.

Jeanette and David Brown from Çiftlik, Cynthia, and Jean and John Watson from Çalış know the mother of the bride as they all volunteer for local charity “Embrace.” They have been following the lengthy planning and wanted to be at the wedding, then follow the procession back to Kargı and the groom’s home. They all appeared to be having a great time. Barbequed meat and Keşkek (a sort of porridge) were served to keep local traditions alive.

The two donkeys were finally escorted back to Kargı as the sun broke through the clouds. The happy couple were settled in to their new stable and the celebrations continued long into the afternoon.

Jane Tuna Akatay