Whirling dervishes are followers of a mystical Sufi practice that mixes dance and meditation. Their whirling dance is much more than just an artistic performance. It is a true journey to the center of oneself, a fascinating exploration of inner workings. In this article, we will dive into the world of whirling dervishes, exploring the new perceptions they discover, the challenge of learning this skill and the benefits they derive from it, such as the feeling of inner stability, the control of emotions and the revelation of the “true me”. We will also address the discipline, concentration and depth of their experiences, as well as the search for the liberation of the body and the practice of acceptance on a daily basis.
The history of whirling dervishes dates back to the thirteenth century in Anatolia, in the region that is now Turkey. The Order of Whirling Dervishes, also known as Mevlevi, was founded by Mevlana Jalal Al-din Rumi, a famous poet, philosopher and mystic of the time. Born in Balkh, in present-day Afghanistan, Rumi eventually migrated to the city of Istanbul, where he established his order and developed the rituals of whirling dance.
The main ceremony of the Mevlevis, known as “sema” in Turkish or “sama” in Arabic, is a truly spectacular experience that combines movement, music and spirituality. Whirling dervishes gather in dedicated places, such as tekkes (Sufi monasteries), where the ceremony is performed with great solemnity.
The sema ceremony begins with religious songs and traditional Turkish music. The dervishes then enter the scene, dressed in their long white cloaks symbolizing self-death and taking on deep spiritual significance. The rhythm of the music intensifies and the dervishes begin their hypnotic whirling dance.
The whirling dance of the dervishes is much more than just a visual spectacle. It is imbued with Islamic symbolism and spirituality. The movements of the dervishes represent the soul’s mystical journey to truth and union with God. Each rotation is a metaphor for the inner quest and the search for spiritual enlightenment.
The whirling of the dervishes is accompanied by traditional Turkish music, including the famous stringed instrument, the ney, and percussion. This haunting music adds an extra dimension to the ceremony, creating an atmosphere conducive to meditation and contemplation.
Despite social and political changes over the centuries, the Whirling Dervish Order has managed to preserve its spiritual and artistic tradition. The rituals of whirling dance are still practiced today, both in religious and cultural contexts. Whirling dervishes continue to inspire people with their devotion, discipline, and search for mystical union.