Turkish Bath Ritual

How she led me,
my attendant Idanoush,
how she led me by the hand,
all along the journey of the Hamam,
gentle and firm she led me
to become an effervescent being.
She covered me with soap bubbles
until my body disappeared.

She led me to become
frothing white foam.
I laughed in surrender.
Air, I became.
I left my body
beneath the bubbles,
lifted out of soap
into spirit, laughing spirit.

Then my radiant attendant
leaned in close to scrub.
She rubbed me
out of my old skin,
so I stood in fresh
form, shining and light,
unknown to myself
new in the world.

©Susa Silvermarie 2019

from the website of Kilic Ali Pasa Hamam, a traditional Turkish Hamam in Istanbul:

Ladies only 8 AM-4 PM Gentlemen only 4:30-11:30 PM. The Hamam Ritual:
As you walk into the camegah (lounge), you will be enchanted by the grandeur of the building and the impressive main dome, considered among the largest Hamam domes in Istanbul. While our colleagues explain you the details of our service/the ritual, you may enjoy the mystical environment and sip our traditional home-made şerbet (sherbet). Once you feel ready, you will be guided to the dressing rooms to don your peştamal (the classic cotton hamam wrap) and to start your Hamam experience.

A special attendant, – natır (for ladies) and tellak (for men) – who will be assisting you all along your journey inside the Hamam, will be welcoming you at the entrance of the hot room. To relax and soften your skin as well as helping your body to adjust to the heat of the Hamam, first you will lie down on the Göbektaşı, the hexagon heated marble in the middle, for at least 10 minutes. Then, your attendant will take you to the next to the Kurna (the marble water basin) where he/she will exfoliate your body with a special scrubbing mitten, the kese. After rinsing, the final step of the ritual – Köpük (bubble soap wash) will start and you will be rubbed with a loofah, leaving you with a feeling of purification.

If you want to treat yourself further, you can enjoy the ambience of the Hamam as long as you may require. And those guests preferring to leave the hot rooms right after the ritual, camegah is the area where you may rest on the comfortable sofas and taste the traditional refreshments and delicacies of the Café Menu.

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