Last night, on a whim, I went with two of my new friends to the Hodjpasha Dance Theater to see the Mevlevi Sema ceremony (aka Whirling Dervishes). Unfortunately, pictures (and clapping, as it turns out) are not allowed, so I don’t have anything to show you. The ceremony is part of Unesco’s Intangible Heritage of Humanity, it is an 800 year old tradition representing the mystical journey of man’s spiritual ascent through mind and love to perfection.
The dance was held in a 500 year old bath house (hamam), the ceremony starts with 4 men playing a Kodum (drum), Danun (strings), Ney (flute), and Tanbur (guitar of some sort). Later, three men join who are the chanters, singing words from the Quran among other things.
The Dervishes themselves spend a majority of the 45 minute ceremony spinning to the music with one hand up toward God and one facing down to represent the people. This means “from God we receive, to man we give; we keep nothing to ourselves.”
I’m really not sure how they spend so much time spinning without falling over. They don’t even use tracking like a ballet dancer would. By the end, you could see the sweat falling from their faces. The dance represents a journey towards nonexistence or Unity with God.
It is, in essence, a meditation much like that of the Buddhists, just a dizzy one…
Today I will go back to the Cultural Arts Center and maybe take another class. I also need to buy a bigger suitcase (haha), but other than that I will take it easy. I have to catch a taxi at 5 am tomorrow to get to the airport for my flight to Cappadoccia!