Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Konya, Turkey

Konya is considered the home of Celaleddin Rumi or Mevlana who established the Mevlani Dervish Sect (Whirling Dervishes). Rumi had developed a philosophy of spiritual union and universal love and is regarded as one of the greatest mystics in the Islamic world. The Melvana Museum is small but houses his tomb and is a point of pilgrimage for his followers. After our tour of the museum, Sis and I spent time walking the main street of Konya observing the varied forms of dress of all the visitors that day. Most of the group went to a carpet factory but we were content to check out the smaller vendors on the street. It was amazing to see many of them sold bags and bags of candy. I guess sweets are a travel staple no matter where you are in the world.

We had the privilege to watch a 45 minute presentation of four Mevlani (Whirling) Dervishes. The presentation started with three musicians setting mood with a hymn. Four Dervishes then came out to the stage and performed their whirling. The "dance" is simple as they basically whirl in formations taking turns on who will lead the circle. The whirling is very difficult. Each dervish spins on one foot while the other foot is used as a pedal to make the turns. Head and arms are held in a specific postition and do not change. I found it very moving that these men were willing to share their discipline with an audience. This was not a nightclub act. This group volunteers to perform in front of small groups in the banquet hall of one of Konya's largest restaurants.

Anyone can become a Dervish. All you need to do is commit to practice for 1001 days.

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