Nature is Venerated
The different modes of production and living, also manifests itself in expressions of belief, an integral part of culture. The gods that were worshipped in the polytheistic era show a marked difference in their characteristics. Those gods which were worshipped in coastal areas appear to be more naïve and passive, whereas the gods worshipped in the mountains appear to be more stern and effective.
The gods worshipped in coastal and mountainous areas had significant differences in their creation myths, worship rituals and their relationship with mortals, even though they had the same mythological identity. The gods were thus given attributes, which conformed to the living and economic conditions of the region. This manifestation is not only seen in their beliefs, but in all moral values created by man.
Nature is venerated in the nomadic lifestyle, which is mainly based on herding. This veneration continues even after the transition from a nomadic lifestyle to a sedentary one. It is centred on the respect for nature, which is the source of all production and life. This respect for nature is so strong that it became a form of creed among the people whose very subsistence is based on it. In this form of belief, nature turns into a mysterious realm where mountains, rivers, caves, memorial trees, large rocks, are regarded as holy and living. The nomads gather near the summits on special days to sacrifice animals as an offering and to pay their respect to the mysterious powers, who they believe to guard them. Such rituals usually take place when large nomadic communities gather. A widely seen tradition in the Anatolian countryside is the “Rain prayer,” considered important because delays in the autumn rainfall disrupt the agricultural cycle. Villages still continue this tradition today by coming together to pray for rain.
The Rain Prayer can be performed on the coast, as well as the high plateau. The basics of the rituals are usually the same, but show variations from one yörük tribe to the other. There are local saints who are worshipped at a certain location, but there are also those whose fame stretches beyond the shores of Anatolia to Egypt and the Balkans. These figures served as role models and played a vital role in their communities. Their followers lavish particular devotion on the tombs of these saints and perform ceremonies where they make offerings and sacrifices. There are many local saints who lived in the region of Antalya. Abdal Musa, who lived in the 14th Century and is buried in the Tekke village of Elmalı, is among the most famous.
Tekke Village is one of the most important worship centres in Heterodox Islam. Thousands of people from all over the country and abroad flock to the village in June. Elmalı, where Abdal Musa is buried, is only a few kilometers away from Myra, the cult centre of St. Nicholas. It is an important indication that geography has an impact on the beliefs of people.
Another similar place of worship can be found near Isparta. After leaving Yalvaç on the highway north of Lake Hoyran towards the west one passes through the productive agricultural corridor of Senirkent- Uluborlu. The Uluğbey District of Senirkent is the place where Veli Baba Sultan, one of the most important saints of Anatolia in the 16th century, is buried.
Nine graves lie side by side in the tomb of Veli Baba Sultan. One of these nine graves is empty and wide-open. This open grave has been waiting for the body of Gül Baba for more than 500 years. Gül Baba died in the 16th century during the Siege of Budin and was buried in a ceremony attended by Suleiman the Magnificent. But even to this day, people believe that he is still alive and that one day upon his death he will be buried in this tomb, situated in his own native soil. What is interesting about this unusual tradition is that people in the Yalvaç region prepare graves for their loved ones who leave their birthplace but fail to return.