Saturday, January 07, 2006

Turks in a spin over Whirling Dervishes



Turks in a spin over Whirling Dervishes

by MERIEL BEATTIE in the Scotsman, December 17, 2005, reporting from Konya, Turkey

FAHRI Ozcakil is an odd kind of civil servant: his job requires him to wear a long white robe and a tall, conical hat and to spin around in circles so fast that his head tilts to one side, his tunic billows out - and his body becomes a twisting blur.

Mr Ozcakil is one of Turkey's official Whirling Dervishes.

Founded in the 13th century by followers of the mystic philosopher and poet Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi, the dervishes developed their mesmerising, whirling dance in the belief that it allowed them to abandon earthly concerns and to achieve a spiritual union with God.

"Every circle, every turn, we keep the name of Allah in our mind," said Mr Ozcakil, who is formally employed by the Turkish ministry of culture and tourism.

Today is the highlight of the Dervish calendar. It is the day, 732 years ago, that Rumi - known today as "The Mevlana" - died in the central Turkish city of Konya.

Thousands of visitors, including many foreigners, have been flocking to Konya this week to watch Mr Ozcakil and his highly trained colleagues perform the hypnotic, whirling dance ceremony, or "Sema", and to listen to haunting Sufi music.

This year, there is an extra reason to celebrate. Last month, UNESCO declared the whirling ceremony a "Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity" - a special status which ranks it alongside Japan's Kabuki theatre and the Khmer shadow puppets of Cambodia.

It represents a return to favour after all Dervish lodges and religious practices were banned by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the modern Turkish Republic, in 1925 as part of his drive to create a secular state.

1 comment:

Ghyda said...

Good article, anywhere i can get any information on sufism?

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Turks in a spin over Whirling Dervishes


Turks in a spin over Whirling Dervishes

by MERIEL BEATTIE in the Scotsman, December 17, 2005, reporting from Konya, Turkey

FAHRI Ozcakil is an odd kind of civil servant: his job requires him to wear a long white robe and a tall, conical hat and to spin around in circles so fast that his head tilts to one side, his tunic billows out - and his body becomes a twisting blur.

Mr Ozcakil is one of Turkey's official Whirling Dervishes.

Founded in the 13th century by followers of the mystic philosopher and poet Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi, the dervishes developed their mesmerising, whirling dance in the belief that it allowed them to abandon earthly concerns and to achieve a spiritual union with God.

"Every circle, every turn, we keep the name of Allah in our mind," said Mr Ozcakil, who is formally employed by the Turkish ministry of culture and tourism.

Today is the highlight of the Dervish calendar. It is the day, 732 years ago, that Rumi - known today as "The Mevlana" - died in the central Turkish city of Konya.

Thousands of visitors, including many foreigners, have been flocking to Konya this week to watch Mr Ozcakil and his highly trained colleagues perform the hypnotic, whirling dance ceremony, or "Sema", and to listen to haunting Sufi music.

This year, there is an extra reason to celebrate. Last month, UNESCO declared the whirling ceremony a "Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity" - a special status which ranks it alongside Japan's Kabuki theatre and the Khmer shadow puppets of Cambodia.

It represents a return to favour after all Dervish lodges and religious practices were banned by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the modern Turkish Republic, in 1925 as part of his drive to create a secular state.

1 comment:

Ghyda said...

Good article, anywhere i can get any information on sufism?