Perhaps, while visiting Turkey, you could see the figure of a white-robed Whirling Dervishes in a dance – this is one of the symbols of the rich Turkish culture. The mystical dance of the Whirling Dervishes in Istanbul reveals Turkish customs, beliefs, and original culture. This is a symbolic path of a person to perfection, which, rotating, sometimes to a state of trance, comprehends truth, love and spirituality.
Dervishes are ancient monks who led an ascetic life and were adherents of Sufism. This direction in Islam is known for its ancient teachings and spiritual practices. Renunciation of everything worldly, prayers and fasting, reflection on the meaning of the Qur’an are characteristic of this movement.
This is a kind of Muslim philosophy aimed at combating vices and educating the individual. The contribution of Sufism to Turkish literature and art cannot be overestimated.
One of the most striking and colorful rituals of the ancient ascetics is the Sema ceremony – the dance of mystical dervishes, and the famous “Mevlevi ritual of Sema” itself is included in the UNESCO list as a masterpiece of oral and intangible cultural heritage.
The history of the dance goes back to the 13th century, when the Mevlevi order was created in the Konya Sultanate. It is based on the teachings of the Persian mystic and poet Jalal da-Din Rumi, better known as Mevlana (translated from Arabic as “our master”). Particular attention is paid to music, singing, dancing, as well as a collective spiritual practice called the “brotherhood of whirling dervishes.”
You can witness this action by visiting the Whirling Dervishes in Istanbul. The show takes place in an unforgettable atmosphere that will take you back to the ancient times of the mysterious monks. The Hojapash Cultural Center is a place where everyone can see the Sema ceremony in Istanbul.
The magical ceremony takes place exclusively at night and lasts about 30 minutes. All this time, your eyes will be riveted to a bewitching hypnotic ritual, from which it is impossible to tear yourself away. They say that in rhythmic whirling, dervishes reach a state of trance and spiritual uplift, thereby approaching God.
The ritual whirling of dervishes is a symbolic act of love and faith, a kind of religious ceremony that carries a deep meaning. The dance has a highly structured form and, starting out as a slow whirl, becomes more and more dynamic over time.
The ritual dance resembles the movement of the planets in the universe, where each element is subject to divine laws. Undoubtedly, everyone should see the Whirling Dervishes in Istanbul at least once in their life and be imbued with this mysterious atmosphere.
The sacrament of the dervishes consists of seven parts, each of which has a certain meaning.
Part 1 symbolizes the Testimony of the unity of Allah. This is the beginning of the action, when, dressed in black cloaks, the dervishes appear in the hall and go around it in a circle, the sheikh enters last. The dervishes throw off their black robes, remaining in long white robes – this symbolizes rebirth. Then the dancers cross their arms over their chests and put them on each other’s shoulders, which means evidence of the unity of Allah.
Part 2 begins with the sound of drums, which means the creation of the world by Allah.
Part 3 is instrumental and describes the Divine breath that gives rise to all living things.
Part 4 is the greeting of the dervishes, meaning the greeting of souls.
Part 5 is the whirling itself, symbolizing the eternal movement of all life in the universe. The rotation occurs from right to left, just as the planets move around the Sun. In the dance of the dervishes, absolutely every movement, every turn has a certain meaning. For example, a hand raised up means a connection with the sky, and a hand down – with the earth.
The main part of the action – whirling consists of four greetings. The first greeting is the birth of a person and the realization of the creator of Allah. The second is the recognition of the power of Allah. The third greeting symbolizes complete submission to Allah, leading to unity with the creator. At this stage, the dervishes enter a state of euphoria or trance. The fourth greeting is the exit from the hypnotic state and the return to your earthly mission.
Part 6 is to read the Qur’an.
Part 7 is the final prayer for the souls of the prophets.
Whirling Dervishes in Istanbul is not an entertainment show, but a sacred ritual of great importance for all religious Muslims in Turkey. Watching the rhythmic movements and smooth turns, try to follow the path of the formation of the soul on the path to perfection, imbued with the faith and cultural traditions of this mysterious country, get closer to the rich spiritual world of Muslims.
To better understand the philosophy and religious beliefs of Muslims in Turkey, you need to see the Whirling Dervishes in Istanbul at least once.
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