"A secret turning in us makes the universe turn. Head unaware of feet, and feet head. Neither cares. They keep turning." – Rumi
Even at our most stagnant, to change and be in motion is the natural state of all things. We are all bound in a cosmic connection of ebb and flow, a fractal in eternal return. These cycles are the essence of life. The very idea of revolution, balance and the continual becoming a push for something more is as innate as breathing.
The visually stunning ceremony of the Whirling Dervish, known as the "Sema," is a religious ritual performed by Sufi priests to commune with the divine that becomes beautiful performance art. During the Sema, the dervishes wear white robes with long flowing skirts, representing the shroud of the ego, and a tall camel's hair hat, representing the tombstone of the ego. They turn around their own axis and around other dervishes, to represent the planet's revolving around the sun, so as to focus one's center on the divine. They are accompanied by the haunting music of the reed pipe, drums and chanting as the ritual gradually transforms into what seems like a rapid trance of spinning ecstasy.
The rarely seen Whirling Dervishes were featured in the 70-mm arthouse film masterpiece "Baraka," whose culturally unifying vision spans every continent, in 24 countries. With Zen-like precision, every symbolic step in each cycle of this traditional dance ritual is as beautifully disciplined and precise as any ballet. When I told my friend Nina that the Dervishes were performing in Jackson, she considered canceling her trip to New York City, to fulfill this entry on her "things to see before I die" list. For one evening, and by at least one person, we will be the cultural envy of New York.
The word "dervish" literally means "doorway," as in one who is at the door to enlightenment, a gateway from the material world to the spiritual world. During the Sema, each dervish is in a sort of prayer or meditation, where his body becomes a conduit to receive and transmit the energy of God, or Nirvana, to every living thing on Earth. With each turn, the dervish continues his spiritual journey toward truth, transcending the ego.
During the ceremony, it is believed that the power or energy of the Divine enters into the upward extended right palm and passes through the body and leaves the lower, turned-down left palm to then enter into the Earth. This is done to enable us to connect with the energy of the divine. The ceremony is similar in intent to the Christian rite of Communion.
The branch of Sufic mysticism practiced widely in Turkey by the Whirling Dervishes of the Mevlevi Order was begun by the philosopher and writer known as Rumi in the 13th century of the Ottoman Empire. Like all Sufis, Rumi emphasized a Gnostic, spiritual dimension of transcendental metaphysics that accepts all religions as one and is founded upon universal and unconditional forgiveness. The priestly title of dervish is bestowed on the most esoteric branch of Sufi students, dedicated to learning through experience, who have given up all earthly possessions and spend their days teaching through storytelling, singing, astrological fortune telling, healing the sick with herbal remedies and, of course, whirling. The simplicity and heart of all Sufism is the love, harmony and beauty, which is the core of all religions. Whether we see our part in such universal divinities as tiny atoms or whole universes, to share in the experience is grace.
"Rumi Exclusive–Whirling Dervishes," is at Thalia Mara Hall, Tuesday, Sept. 21, 7 p.m. This is one of only seven dates on their US tour. Tickets are $10-$35 at all Ticketmaster locations, Be-Bop Records Shops and http://www.Ticketmaster.com Call 960-1535, 981-5000 for tickets and information.
The Institute of Interfaith Foundation and Rain Drop Foundation, a non-profit corporation promoting cultural activities and offering educational courses to adults and children, is proud to announce a very special one-night-only performance of the Order of the Whirling Dervishes from Turkey.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THIS EVENT : The Order of the Whirling Dervishes was founded in the 13th
century in what is modern-day Turkey by the world-renowned philosopher and mystical poet
Mevlana Jalal-al-Din Rumi, popularly known as "Rumi." The popular appeal of Rumi and his poetry expressing his philosophy of love of all creation, tolerance, and peace through love and worship of God has not diminished over the centuries. This is best evidenced by the fact that Rumi has been the number-one selling poet in the United States for the last 13 years.
The Order of the Whirling Dervishes is one branch of the vast Sufi tradition of Islam. Sufism espouses a moderate interpretation of Islam, which focuses on love, tolerance, worship of God, community development, and personal development through self-discipline and responsibility. These universal themes are very much relevant to the social and political
realities of today, and the ritual performed by the Order of the Whirling Dervishes has come to
symbolize these values in the hearts and minds of millions throughout the world.
The ritual of the Whirling Dervishes features the revolving dance of the dervishes cloaked in long white robes accompanied by spiritual Sufi music performed live on traditional instruments dating back to the 13th Century. The dervishes are coming to Jackson from Rumi's hometown -
Konya, Turkey. The Whirling Dervishes have performed previously in Europe and the Far
East. Attendees of the performance in Jackson will have the unique opportunity to witness this intensely spiritual and inspirational performance of the Whirling Dervishes without having to travel to Turkey.
Several special guests are expected to attend the performance, including members of the diplomatic corps in Jackson. For more information about the performance, "Rumi Exclusive -
Whirling Dervishes," or for more information about the Institute of Interfaith Dialog, please contact:
Sabri Agachan, Mississippi Representative, Institute of Interfaith Dialog
Email: [e-mail missing]
Institute of Interfaith Dialog
P.O. Box 2202
Jackson, MS 39225