UNESCO declares 2021 as the Year of Yunus Emre, Hacı Bektâş Velî and Ahî Evran

UNESCO declares 2021 as the Year of Yunus Emre, Hacı Bektâş Velî and Ahî Evran

Every two years UNESCO’s Director-General requests National Commissions of each country to send a maximum of two proposals of possible commemorations of historical and cultural heritages. The applications are sent until September and if approved, in January of the next year. 

In January 2021 UNESCO proclaimed the Anniversary of Commemoration and Celebration of Yunus Emre, Hacı Bektâş Velî and Ahî Evran. In the past UNESCO already proclaimed 1991 as “Yunus Emre’s Year of Love”, commemorating his mystical sufi “diwans” or poems. In 2019 UNESCO introduced Kirsehir, the city in which Ahî Evran was buried, as part of “UNESCOs Creative City Network” due to its historic, cultural and artistic significance. 

The aim of this year’s celebration of UNESCOs Anniversary of Commemoration and Celebration is to commemorate three of the most relevant philosophers from Anatolia. As part of this holiday throughout the year there has been and will keep on being symposiums and discourses about the three wise Anatolian men. Also other international, national and local activities regarding the philosopher’s lives, teachings and legacy are part of public activities that are being organized. Specific locations such as their graves and birthplaces are increasing the interest of many tourists. 

The reason of 2021 for the commemoration of the three Anatolian thinkers is to celebrate: 

  • The 750th death anniversary of Hacı Bektâş Velî
  • The 700th death anniversary of Yunus Emre
  • The 850th birth anniversary of Ahî Evran

A quick introduction to the three most relevant Anatolian philosophers

Yunus Emre

Yunus Emre is Turkey’s most worshiped folk poet. The mystical sufi diwan writer was born in 1238 A.D, and died 1328 A.D in Sivrihisar, Eskisehir. He lived most of his life in Ankara; he had been sent there to study by Hacı Bektâş Velî. 

Hacı Bektâş Velî

Hacı Bektâş Velî was born in Nishapur, east Iran, in 1209 A.D. But when the Mongol Empire invaded his hometown he migrated to Nevsehir, current Hacibektas, in Anatolia, where he met Yunus Emre. Bektâş Velî is the founder of Anatolian alawism and Bektashism. 

Ahî Evran

Ahî Evran, also known as Nasruddin Mahmud Ahî Evran, name by which he is sometimes linked to the famous Turkish folk and fable character Nasreddin Hodja, was originally from the city of Hoy, in Azerbaijan. He was born in 1171 A.D. and lived until 1262 A.D. and he is the creator of the “Ahî order”

If you want to know more about these three great writers and thinkers, take a look at activities organized by public and private Turkish agencies throughout the country.

Irene Adolph Crespo