Why You Haven’t Really Seen Turkey Until You’ve Seen The Whirling Dervishes In Konya

Why You Haven't Really Seen Turkey Until You've Seen The Whirling Dervishes

If you stick all over Istanbul extended adequate you’re probable going to run into a Whirling Dervishes overall performance. But if you want to see the true factor you have to head to Konya, where it all began.

By Inka Piegsa-Quischotte

I have to admit that till I visited the festival in Konya, Turkey, I didn’t have a pretty clear strategy as to what the whirling dervishes were all about. Everybody who has visited Turkey has noticed pictures of guys in white skirts and black conic hats, arms outstretched whirling around their personal axis. While I did not imagine of them as some drug-crazed mystics who danced themselves into ecstasy and oblivion, I imagined far more along the lines of folkloristic dance. The two assumptions have been entirely incorrect.

It was winter in Turkey — December to be precise — and cold and miserable, so I willingly followed the suggestion of my Turkish good friend who recommended I travel from Didim to Konya and working experience what he described as, quote: “a exclusive opportunity to discover about the Sufi philosophy and the significance of the dance at the website the place it all originated.” That is how he place it in his normal rather flowery way of describing issues. But then, the man is a poet, so he need to be forgiven.

The festival is celebrated each yr from December ten – 17. Konya does have an airport, but provided the substantial amount of pilgrims and guests who descend on the town for the event, no flights have been to be had, so we opted to go by lengthy-distance coach.

Coaches in Turkey are a quite well known suggests of transport and quite relaxed. One drawback though, as I identified out to my dismay, is that they do not have a restroom. So you are well recommended to time your “needs” to coincide with the stops along the way . . . and be swift about it lest you be left behind — the bus will not wait and the attendant counts his passengers following the bus has pulled out of the station.

Konya, the former capital of the Selcuk Empire is found at the foot of the Anatolian mountains, and our bus journey took virtually twelve hrs. Fortunately — and given the very low temperature that acquired even lower the more we acquired away from the coast — the heating worked wonderfully and we could fortify ourselves on board with loads of hot tea, snacks and pastries, all served by a male “trolley dolly” in an embroidered waistcoat. Konya is pretty massive with shut to one million residents, but when we arrived at the station it appeared as if all 1 million had been there hurrying about. The crowds have been jostling and noisy, and noticeably in a fine, festival mood. Given that it was a religious festival, I was shocked to obtain the environment to be closer to that of a carnival than of a solemn pilgrimage.

First lesson learned from my poet-friend Mehmet: Sufism and the whirling dervishes are about joy, about really like and the celebration of turning out to be a single with God. Gloom and doom or even extreme solemnity have no location in this festival. The venue of the dances is the Mevlana Mausoleum, also identified as the Green Mausoleum — ostensibly due to its green-tiled dome. The Persian philosopher, mystic and poet Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi — whose followers and son were the founders of the Sufi Purchase — came to Konya in the 13th century and was really revered by the Sultan. He died on in 1273 and is buried in the mausoleum. The sight of his tomb and surrounding chamber, covered in gold and hung with massive chandeliers, is unquestionably awe-inspiring.

Mevlana, as he is frequently referred to, taught a model of Islam that puts the emphasis on tolerance, patience, and on attaining happiness by really like and the unification with God through continual movement, reflected in the movement of the earth and the universe.

Followers of Mevlana are referred to as the Whirling Dervishes as a consequence of their ritualistic worship support, the Sema, a whirling, ecstatic dance that lasts for a quarter of an hour and performed to the drone of ancient Islamic hymns with the followers draped in long, white dresses. The Whirling Dervishes undergo a lengthy and ardent schooling and instruction ahead of they are ready to carry out the dance, which symbolizes the street from life on earth to heaven. The word “dervish” signifies “doorway to God” and Sema symbolizes a mystical journey that ends in the return as a better particular person.

Upon arriving we squeezed our way into the massive hall located in the mausoleum itself and observed seats in the folding chairs that surrounded in row on row the empty space where the dervishes would appear.

The lights were dimmed and a hush fell in excess of the audience. 1st out from a side door have been the musicians who accompanied the dervishes. Dressed in black, they started the ritual melodies which are odd and at the very same time compelling to western ears. They play a reed flute, a drum and a one particular string violin and a praise of Mohammed is sung in the first part of the Sema which is termed “Naat.”

Then, the dervishes appear, in single file, their white clothing covered with a black cloak and a black, conical hat on their heads, symbolizing a tombstone. The whole ritual has 4 parts and right after bowing to each and every other, the dervishes commence their spiritual journey by starting up to spin. They flip in ever increasing speed, often from suitable to left. Their arms, which at the starting are folded in excess of their chest, stretch out, the ideal hand pointing heavenwards and the left in the direction of the earth in a symbolic gesture to guidebook the enlightenment from God in direction of the mortals on earth. The dance ends with a further Naat, prayer and praise of the prophet Mohammed.

Mehmet whispered explanations of the diverse phases into my ear due to the fact the multitude of spectators kept an eerie silence. Nothing at all but the soft motion of ever more rapidly spinning feet, the swish of the unfolding skirts and the monotonous — and at the identical time mesmerizing — sound of the instruments could be heard.

At the end, I actually had problems coming down to earth. Mentally, I was still spinning with the dervishes. The physical accomplishment is astonishing. I looked closely, when, at the end, the dervishes bowed again to every single other and I swear, they were not even out of breath. Neither did they even once lose their stability.

When we were safely back in our small hotel, I couldn’t aid myself. I experimented with some spinning of my very own and was rewarded with Mehmet’s merciless laughter when I toppled immediately after the very first 3 rounds. Seeing the whirling dervishes perform in the spot which is most revered by all Sufi disciples, regardless of whether they are dervishes or not, is a cultural and philosophical practical experience which given the possibility, no visitor to Turkey should miss.

If you are in other areas — specifically Istanbul — you’ll very likely see abbreviated Whirling Dervishes performances, but they lack the spiritual essence you come across in Konya throughout the festival, and they are considerably closer to a tourist attraction than a cultural encounter. For the authentic factor, Konya’s your only choice.



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