KKT North Cyprus News              Issue no. 55                                                                Thu 28th Aug 2014 

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North Cyprus News

The Dervishes will Whirl for Tulips -
an opportunity to share in this spiritual and mystical 'dance' and help Tulips to help their patients
by Marion Stuart

A special evening for the mind and the body is to be held on Sunday 7th September at Bellapais Abbey, when the Whirling Dervishes will be sharing their spiritual dance moments for the benefit of Tulips, the biggest cancer charity in TRNC which helps cancer patients.

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Whirling Dervishes

The charge to watch this 50 minute performance will be 10tl, all of which will be given to Tulips, as the Mevlani will be performing free of charge.

Tickets for this event are available at the Tulips Stall at Chateau Lambousa, or payment can be made on the night at the abbey. 

The poster gives the main details of this event, but people should be aware that this 'dance' is in effect a spiritual exercise, and the whirling is actually a 'remembering of God' and is part of the Sufi path of mysticism.

The Mevlevi or Mevliye is a Sufi order founded in Konya by the followers of the thirteen century persian poet, jurist and Islamic theologian, Jalal ad-Din Muhamad Balkhi-Rumi.  It was following his death that the order was founded in1273, and the name 'The Whirlish Dervishes' is what they became known as due to the whirling (dhikr), and 'dervish' is a common term for an initiate of the Sufi path.

In 2004 UNESCO proclaimed the Mevelevi Sema Ceremony of Turkey as being amongst the masterpieces of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity Model of a dervish studying. The dance they undertake and which is performed daily alongside study for truth, is known as the Sama, and represents a mystical journey of man's spiritual ascent through mind and love to the 'Perfect, for as turning towards the truth, the follower grows through love, deserting his own ego and finding truth, thus arriving at the 'perfect'.  He then returns from this spiritual journey as a man who has reached maturity and a greater perfection, able to love and to be of service to all of creation.

The actual ceremony is  broken up into four parts which all have their own meanings.
Naat and Taksim – Naat is the beginning of the ceremony where a solo singer offers praise for the Islamic prophet Muhammad. The first part is finished with taksim (improvisation in free rhythm) of the ney reed flute which symbolizes our separation from God.

Devr-i Veled – During the following Devr-i Veled, the dervishes bow to each other and make a stately procession in single file around the hall. The bow is said to represent the acknowledgement of the Divine breath which has been breathed into all of us. After all the dervishes have done this they kneel and remove their black cloaks.

The Four Salams – The Four Salams are the central part of Sama. The samazens or whirling dervishes are representative of the moon and they spin on the outside (sufi whirling) of the Sheikh who is representative of the sun. They, as previously mentioned, spin on their left foot and additionally, they have their right palm facing upwards towards Heaven and their left hand pointing at the ground. The four salams themselves are representative of the spiritual journey that every believer goes through. The first one is representative of recognition of God, the second one is recognition of the existence in his unity, the third one represents the ecstasy one experiences with total surrender and the fourth one, where the Sheikh joins in the dance, is symbolic of peace of the heart due to Divine unity. After the four salams, this part of the ceremony is concluded with another solo Taksim.

Concluding Prayer – The fourth part of the ceremony is a recitation from the Qu'ran and a prayer by the Sheikh and then the Sama is complete

It is interesting to note that Christian theologians have been inspired by watching these Dervishes perform and one in particular a Rudolph Otto  was led to write a book 'Das Heilige' which is an attempt to analyse feelings of 'awe' when in the presence of the Almighty, just as was Isaiah in old Testament times when he maintained that in the temple 'I saw the Lord High and Mighty and Lifted Up' and the sense of awe it gave him. 

Attending one of these performances is a spiritual experience, and one can indeed experience a sense of 'awe' when watching as  they aim towards that moment of  'perfection' and so it is fitting that the money is given to a charity which tries to help bodies ailing with cancer to be made 'perfect'.

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