By Ellie Fairbanks - The Kentucky Kernel - Kentucky,U.S.A.
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
While most of the news from the Middle East recently has focused on war, violence and unrest, the Whirling Dervishes of Rumi came to UK last night with a message of peace, love and tolerance.
"Today, this message is more important than ever," said Mehmet Saracoglu, the president of UK's Interfaith Dialogue Organization, which organized the performance. The Dervishes are followers of Rumi, a 13th century mystical poet. Rumi preached about understanding and the acceptance of all cultures, Saracoglu said.
Rumi was a true human being, said Umit Goker, a representative from the Istanbul Center for Culture and Dialogue in Atlanta. "Rumi became one of the greatest teachers of universal love and peace," Goker said. "He merged everything he did into one unified existence."
The dance performed, the Sema Ritual, is a spiritual journey for the performers. The spinning motion of the performance has roots in science, Goker said. The whirling action creates a journey of reflection, knowledge and love, ending in a higher level of perfection, he said.
"The Dervishes are revolving in harmony with each other," Goker said. "The fundamental condition of our existence is to revolve. Everything in nature revolves - electrons, protons, neutrons. The Dervishes share in the revolution of other beings.
"Before the performance, traditional Sufi music was played. Sufism is a mystic tradition with ties to Islam.
"Sufism is a path followed by an individual to free oneself from vices," Goker said. "Followers come to know knowledge and love and live in spiritual delight."
Joseph Tiu, a resident of Berea, traveled to Lexington with his fiancée for the music and performance. He said that Sufi music offers something a bit different from Western music.
"Traditional music from the East is a little off sometimes," Tiu said. "It's very natural and organic, and there's an element of chaos in it. It's a nice change from Western music."
While the Dervishes are Muslim, Goker said that the performance is meant to bring together all cultures.
"There is unrest and conflict everywhere," Goker said. "There is a clash of civilization. Now is the time to come together to understand each other and find common ground and references. "Religious differences can pulverize people. If we build good relations we can better all major faiths."