Konya, Turkey is the origin of a Sufi sect of Islam, which worships God with a practice of whirling as a form of dhikr (remembrance of God). These guys are commonly known as the Whirling Dervishes. The order was started by the followers of Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Balkhi-Rumi, a 13th-century Persian poet, Islamic jurist, and theologian, according to Wikipedia.
Saturday, Terese and I went on a tour to Konya to eat good food, do some shopping, and then attend a performance of the ceremony. We took many pictures, but we were not allowed to use flash. Altho others ignored the request, we didn’t, so many of the pics were out of focus. But we did get enough to show.
Once we arrived in Konya, the guides took us to a restaurant to eat. As in any meal I’ve had in Turkey, the food was excellent. Usually with lamb or chicken, and always with yogurt, peppers, onions and greens that looks like weeds to me.
Below it starts with the little bowls of stuff, some of it not be eaten by those with a soft stomach. Then came the “Mozambique” soup, followed by lamb on bread. The dessert we determined was a chestnut paste mixed with butter. Everything is meant to be eaten with bread. Afterwards we went to an outdoor Mevlana Museum with the history of the Mevlevi Order. The museum contains many sarcophagi – (plural of sarcophagus) holding the remains of the early Rumi families. Here’s some pics Terese took in the museum. As we walked around in the sub-freezing sunshine, two little school girls stopped Terese and asked to interview her. Turns out to be their school homework. They spoke very good English, whereas it’s not common in Turkey to learn our language. As soon as they finished, two more girls stopped to interview her. That’s when I pulled my phone out and took these pics. Terese always gets cute girls to visit with her, while all I get are old women who want me to help them cross a street. Below are a few pics I took of the surrounding area. As we walked around waiting for time to go to the performance and do a bit of shopping, I was more concerned on finding a place to warm up, and did not take any pictures of the inside of the shops. Luckily Terese took some. The gentleman on the left is the proprietor.
We eventually attended the performance (Sama). It starts out with a very slow procession of the sheikh and 28 dervishes. The lighting changed color occasionally, so the best pics are the ones I got with the full lighting. Once they all came in, with a lot of chanting and bowing between movements, they removed their black cloaks showing the white garments. Taken from Wikipedia: The Sama was practiced in the samahane (ritual hall) according to a precisely prescribed symbolic ritual with the dervishes whirling in a circle around their sheikh, who is the only one whirling around his axis. The Sema is performed by spinning on the Left foot. The dervishes wear a white gown (tennure) (symbol of death), a wide black cloak (hırka) (symbol of the grave) and a tall brown hat (kûlah or sikke), symbol of the tombstone. Then there is a very slow, step-by-step walk (even slower than a wedding march) of several of them, in a circle with the sheikh. The sheikh is the one with the green cloth on his hat. Then they all slowly move past him and started their whirling.They did four separate whirling sessions with a lot of bowing between them, each lasting about 10 minutes or so. Not once did I see any of them barf, nor show any signs of vertigo. I told Terese to keep her purse handy in case I got sick watching them.
I figured the guy walking among them was controlling the movement of the circle. He would move in and out allowing the dervishes to fill in gaps and to help some of them know when to move. As I understand, they are suppose to be in a trance of sort.
The Sama is concluded with a recitation from the Qu’ran and a prayer by the sheikh. I saw a much smaller Sama years ago in Istanbul and was interested in seeing this larger show. I think Terese enjoyed it more than I did. She being an old dancer from decades past could relate to it better than me. … and no, I didn’t get sick. D.