Traditional Sohbet meetings play a crucial role in transmitting Turkish folk literature, folk dances and music, village plays as well as societal values. Turkish men meet regularly indoors, especially in winter, to discuss local social and cultural issues, safeguard traditions, and encourage solidarity, mutual respect and a sense of community. Meetings may include music, dances and plays, all enjoyed while consuming local dishes. A traditional Sohbet meeting may last until the early morning. Meetings are open to men above the age of 15 or 16, regardless of ethnicity, religion or status, with the basic requirement that members be of honest families, be trustworthy and respectful of their elders, and not gamble or display public drunkenness. Members may be penalized with a fine for missing a meeting, except under extenuating circumstances. Mothers and wives encourage male members to attend because of the associated social and cultural benefits. Communities usually comprise five to thirty persons and are guided by leaders, appointed by election or proposed by elders. Members of the community all have equal rights and commitments. The Sohbet meetings fulfil an important educational function by transferring ethical values such as social justice, tolerance, benevolence and respect.
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