Two months back, while I was touring Turkey, I stumbled upon the Whirling Dervishes in a place called Konya. Sounds mysterious right? These dervishes spin, spin and spin, with the equilibrium I have never seen before. The lighting was low and warm, creating a mystic and non-intrusive atmosphere. This sect is so different and unique that I decided to write about it.
The Mevlevi or the whirling dervishes are a Sufi order founded in Konya,Turkey by the followers of Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Balkhi-Rumi, a 13th century Persian poet, Islamic jurist, and theologian. They are also known as the Whirling Dervishes due to their famous practice of whirling as a form of dhikr (remembrance of God). The Mevlewi believe in performing their dhikr in the form of a “dance” and musical ceremony known as the Sema, which involves the whirling. The participants are called semazen.
The Sema ceremony represents a mystical journey of man’s spiritual ascent through mind and love to perfection. The dance indicates turning towards truth, growing through the channel of love, deserting ego, finding truth and then arriving at Perfection. The dervishes are extremely graceful. While whirling, their arms are open, right hand faces the sky which indicates the ready to receive God’s beneficence. The left hand is directed towards the earth. This ceremony is divided into 7 stages, the eulogy to the Prophet, the drum sounds, followed by instrumental music, the greeting of dervishes and lastly the whirling. The 6th part is reading versus from the Quran and ends with a peace prayer.
The description of these Mevlevis is almost impossible. They are not only graceful but immersed in their dance. What astounded me was they spin for so long in one place, at the same pace without going off balance or even bumping into another mevlevi near by. Some members of the audience had travelled across the world to see the ceremony, whilst others may have stumbled across the performance.I have attached a video from Youtube to understand it better!