Turkish people in Erzurum leave loaves in nature to ward off accidents

A group of shopkeepers and religious people in Turkey’s eastern province of Erzurum have left 2,001 loaves of bread in nature as part of an ancient ritual to ward off accidents and bad events, Demirören News Agency reported on Friday.

The practice stems from another ritual where religious leaders recited the Qoran 1,001 times 487 years ago to protect Erzurum from natural disasters, religious scholar Muhittin Olçun told DHA.

Turkey has suffered several earthquakes in recent weeks, both in the western and eastern parts of the country, and successive avalanches killed more than 35 people last week.  

Observers of the ritual had a tradition of placing 1,001 loaves around the snow-covered mountains every year for wild animals to feed on, according to Olçun.

“This time we left 2,001 loaves of bread to ward off the recent unfortunate events in our country, and we prayed,” he said.

As part of the ritual, some five thousand people have been reciting the Qoran in various mosques around the province since December. The tradition was started by a holy man called Pir Ali Baba, whose mausoleum is visited for prayers still.

“Wild animals go down to the villages, even the city, when they can’t find food in nature,” Olçun added. “A society that doesn’t provide peace for animals can’t find peace itself. The animals are trusted to us (by God), we must protect them,” he said, explaining why the ritual involves loaves of bread.