JAMRAH: THE HERALD of SPRİNG
The spring has not yet fully shown itself, but jamrah, the herald of spring, has already arrived. It is believed that jamrah brings warmth to the three aspects of nature of air, water and soil and had a deep cultural place among nomadic Turks
Winter keeps a long-term friendship with humankind. In certain regions of Turkey, winter lasts around eight months. Everybody gets excited when the first snow falls. However, this excitement and happiness is soon replaced with worry and weariness as the cold winter months continue. This uneasy mood perishes with the good news of jamrah's arrival. (It is believed that jamrah is three fireballs that come from the space to warm the earth toward the end of winter. Each jamrah warms one aspect of nature - air, water and soil rise in seven-day intervals.) Joy and hope take over again - this is the herald of spring.
The elderly are generally said to be infallible weather reporters. They can forecast the weather by looking at certain days on the Julian calendar. Indeed, they are so good at weather forecasting that they sometimes embarrass meteorologists because their projections are the outcome of centuries-old lore and experience. It is said that jamrah happens in the air, water and earth during the last days of winter, increasing the temperature. The elderly divide a year not according to the seasons but into two periods, as "Qassem" days, which last 179 days, and "Hedeer" days, which last 186 days. The first jamrah arrives on the 105th Qassem day and the second and third jamrah come on the 112th and 119th Qassem days.
Jamrah is a kind of energy. The first jamrah comes to the air, on Feb. 21, followed by the second in water, on Feb. 28, and the third in the earth, on March 7. They are called the first, second and third jamrah and are each featured in the traditional calendar. When jamrah comes, people feeling exhausted by the hardships of winter become very happy and hopeful about the arrival of spring. Nedim, an Ottoman poet who lived in the Tulip Era, wrote the following: "Cemreler her sene ta birbirinin ardınca / Nevbahar erdiği müjdeyle gülistana gelir." (Jamrah comes to the rose garden one after another every year heralding the arrival of spring.)
Long ago, certain nomadic people would establish three nested tents woven from the wool of sheep or goats to take shelter with their animals in winter. In each tent, they would make a fire. The inner tent was reserved for the cattle, the second tent was for the small cattle and the outer tent was for themselves. On Feb. 21, they put out the fire in the inner tent and let the cattle outside. After this, they would leave the small cattle outside until Feb. 28. On March 7, they put out the last fire and they would go outside. They were nomads who lived Arabia where it is not easy to go out before March 7 in the northern regions. All the idioms used to describe jamrah are in Arabic; "Jamrah" in Arabic means "cinder." The three of the obelisks - also called devils created from fire - at which pilgrims on the hajj throw stones in Mina, to the east of Mecca, are also called jamrah.
Arabs also called cavalry troops of 1,000 men jamrah, probably because the troops would ravage the places they attacked like fire. Moreover, inflamed sores are named jamrah as it causes the body temperature to rise. Rumor has it that the wealthy Chinese used to light three ovens in the harshest days of winter. They were said to put them out one by one once the coldest days of winter passed. Turkic people believed that a jinn called "Imra" made the weather warmer in the last days of winter. This jinn is said to appear in spring and rise to the sky by radiating shaky lights; then it comes down to the ice blocks and melts them, causing the earth to warm up and steam to rise into the air. This means everything is ready for the arrival of spring.
Some astronomers say that jamrah refers to three stars, and because their color is close to red, they were named after it. The first jamrah occurs on Feb. 21, starting from sun rise to noon and the weather gets warmer. The second one comes on Feb. 28 after sunset and makes water warmer. The last one on March 7 happens at constellation time and the soil gets warmer. In Arabic, they are called "jamrah al-hawa" for the air, "jamrah al-maa" for water and "jamrah al-tourab" for soil.
There is no clear scientific information on jamrah, but since February is the last month before spring, the sun begins to manifest itself and the time difference between day and night gets shorter. Rays of sunlight start to shine more directly and their reflection is more clearly seen. Many people cannot wait to see the changes in the weather.
Based on the findings of a 60-year-long meteorological examination in Istanbul, jamrah starts when the weather gets warmer in spring. A small fall in temperatures has also been observed between the days of two jamrah's. An increase in temperatures is seen on these three dates with around 42 percent probability, while it is 74 percent when two jamrah are taken into account.
Ottoman-era poets used to write poems on festivals, seasons, religious days and national events. When jamrah happens, they used to write poems called "jamrahviyyah" and presented them to statesmen. Artists were always patronized by the empire and these poets were rewarded monetarily and with other gifts, which were called "jaiza." Their poems make a connection between love and jamrah and the lover and the poet. One of them, the Bosnian poet Sabit, who lived from 1650 to 1712, wrote a famous jamrahviyyah that he presented to Shauk-ul Islam Ali Efendi. Here are two couplets from his poem: "Cemre ile hâbgâhına ateş bırakdı gül, Bülbül döne döne ocağında kebâb olur." (The rose fires up the bedroom of the nightingale with jamrah / The nightingale swirls, yearning and burning in its home.) Âlem ısındı cemreyle zira merâhimi, Eltâf-ı kutb-i âlem gibi bîhisâb olur." (Everyone's hearts gets warmer with jamrah because of passion / Because what jamrah brings is countless like the grace of the Saint.)
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