Posted by Vi Warkentin on
The Whirling Dervishes of Cappadocia, Turkey - we had the opportunity to observe the Sema ceremony at Dervish House Cappadocia - in the town of NEVŞEHİR near Göreme. (Photos were allowed to be taken after the ceremony when the Whirling Dervishes returned to the stage to provide the visitors with a short demonstration).
The Mevlevi order (probably better known as the Whirling Dervishes) was founded by the Sufi mystic, Celaleddin Rumi (1207-1273), also called Mevlâna. He believed that music and dance represented a way to begin an ecstatic state of universal love and offered a means to free the individual from the stress and pains of daily life. Central to the practice of the dervishes is the whirling ceremony or sema. It consists of several stages, each with its own meaning. The central theme of the mystical cycle of the sema is love - symbolizing the sharing of God’s love among earthly beings.
The dervishes extend their arms, to allow divine energy to enter the right palm, move through the body, and pass through the left palm into the earth. They move from right to left, pivoting around the heart. Whirling is the climax of the sema. The sema consists of seven parts - the first three are prayers, greetings and musical improvizations. Then the ritual moves into the fifth stage consisting of four selams or salutes - truth through knowledge, the splendour of creation, total submission before God and coming to terms with destiny. The sixth part is a reading from the Quran. The Sema ceremony ends with a prayer for peace.The clothing worn for the sema has symbolic meaning. The conical headdress symbolizes the tomb of the ego and the wide white skirt symbolizes the ego’s shroud.