April 10th, 2010


Whirling dervishes

Last week the Turkish embassy sponsored a Sema ceremony at Education City. This is the religious ceremony founded by Rumi and practiced by his followers, the Mevlevi sect of Sufis, more commonly known in the West as whirling dervishes.

I never imagined I'd ever see Sema in Doha, since the local form of Islam finds the very idea of Sema sacrilegious, but somehow it happened anyway. I was glad, because I've somehow managed to miss seeing this both times I've been to Turkey.

In the video you can see parts of: the opening eulogy to the Prophet; the improvised reed flute solo symbolizing the Divine Breath; the dervishes greeting greeting each other in "Devr-i Veled"; the whirling itself, which starts at 2:12 if you have a short attention span; and a brief clip of the Qur'anic recitation and prayer at the very end. See here for a detailed description of the ceremony and what it symbolizes.

I took the video mostly to capture the music, which I adored. I'm not at all familiar with Turkish music, but at different points it reminded me of Russian Orthodox, Arabic, Indian, and even Chinese music. If you want nice pictures, try my friend Alex's.