Whirling dervishes for Indian audience

Turkish Troupe that featured in Jodhaa Akbar is set to give its majestic performances in the City.

To enthrall dance and Sufi music lovers, Whirling Dervishes, a Turkish dance troupe is scheduled to perform at Rashtrapati Bhavan on October 28.

Founded in 1273 by Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi, the troupe has popularised its dance form around the world. In fact, the troupe has featured in films like Ashutosh Gowarikar’s Jodhaa Akbar.

As part of their visit to Delhi, the troupe will also perform at Delhi International Arts Festival on 27th and Jamia Millia Islamia University on 29th. Incidentally, October 29 is Turkey’s National Day as well.

Whirling Dervishes is a well-known form of Sufi dance that was established by Hüsamettin Çelebi, a follower of Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi in 1273 in Konya.

Dervish means initiation of the journey on the path of Sufism and whirling denotes a part of a formal Sama ceremony (Sama is Arabic word which means ‘listening’ in English). The performers of Whirling Dervishes are called Semazen-s.

While performing the dance the dervishes wear a white gown (symbolic of death), a wide black cloak that is symbolic of the grave and a tall brown hat (sikke) that is symbolic of the tombstone.

They practice multiple rituals; primary among them being ‘dhikr’.  Dhikr involves recitation of devotional Islamic prayers coupled with physical exertions of movement to reach a perfect state where one is on the same level as God.

The second important ritual is the ‘sama’ which is performed by spinning on the right foot and represents the journey of a man whose soul gets connected with the almighty in pursuit of attaining truth and perfection.

Sama ceremonies are broken up into four parts. Naat and Taksim 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) which symbolises separation from God.

Next is 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 the bow, all the Dervishes kneel and remove their black cloaks.

Then the Four Salams which are the central part of Sama. The four salams are representative of the spiritual journey that every believer goes through. The first one is representative of recognition of God, the second is recognition of the existence in his unity, the third represents the ecstasy one experiences with total surrender and the fourth, where the Sheikh joins in the dance, is symbolic of peace of the heart due to divine unity.

The fourth part of the ceremony is a recitation from the Quran and a prayer by the Sheikh and then the Sama is complete.

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