Out of This Whirl…….
12th December 2016
After some breakfast, we left the hotel in Beysehir, and started the drive to Konya. The two hour trip was thankfully mapped, unlike the road we took from Alanya to Beysehir. Again, the landscape had change, and the large, rolling hills were rocky and unforgiving. On route, we saw some villages that had large piles of potatoes. I mean, LARGE piles of potatoes….. And not just one or two piles……..Mountains of them! Maybe this was a potatoes growing area? You reckon?
Turning the next few bends, we were amazed to sea a lorry in a ditch, on its side. Thankfully, there were people there helping out…..but I do wonder, was the driver fed up of delivering potatoes and decided to lay them down as part of the on going road resurfacing works or had he just come off the bend….hmmm!
Located in the Central Anatolian Region, Konya is a major city with a massive population. The city has close links with Rumi, the famous Iranian Poet and philosopher, and even his tomb is here resting. Another reason it’s close with Rumi is the fact that in December each year, Muslims come to the Mevlâna festival, where the Whirling Dervishes do their long and hypnotic spinning which consists of five, 10 minute spinning sessions. Rumi believed that music and dance offered a way to libertate an individual from anxiety and pain and mixed it with very strong Islamic leanings.
Konya has been inhabited since the Hitte period, but has now become a very modern and industialiezide city, despite still, having some Seljuk houses.
Driving in off the mountain road, we noticed the thick, misty smog, which is settled over the city. Looking at it, it seemed our illusions of the city were to be shattered, being used to blue skies and clear mountain and sea air, the atmosphere we were driving into was thick, you could almost taste it. When we got further into the city, there were many crazy and erratic drivers, swerving in and out of lorries, going through red lights, and driving up the wrong side of the road ( again! No matter how many times we experience what is driving in Turkey, every day throws a new surprise!! ) Once at our Ibis, we unpacked, and then had a drive around the city to familiarize ourselves with the town layout, and to people watch.
Most of the Konyan architecture is Seljuk, as well as some three storey Ottoman buildings and mosques. The main centre is a large road that circles around the Aleaddin mosque, which is set on a large wooded area, that has been used since prehistoric times. Konya is a weary but bustling city to travel through, but for its size, the traffic does flow nicely.
After a short drive, we came back to the hotel, and walked dogs, grabbed food and found a cab then we left for the Dervish event, at the Mevlâna Kulture centre. Upon arriving, we were greeted by some people who were greeting the guests with what we thought was hot milk…..it wasn’t……..Sahlep, also known as Sahlap or Salep, the drink, is a traditional winter warmer, a common beverage in Turkey. The powder of Sahlep is sold in a ready-to-prepare form, to be mixed with cold milk or water, boiled until it gets thick so that it can really sooth our sore throats and take away that cold during the blistery winter days. The dust of cinnamon makes it even more pleasurable. It is thick, it is sweet, it is comforting.
The ingredient is the powder made from the root or ‘tubers’ of a rare orchid found in Turkey and West Asia.
To create the powder, one of the two bulbs (or roots) of specific wild orchids (Orchis, Ophyrus, Serapias, Platanthera, Dectylorhiza) is removed, washed, boiled, air dried and finally ground. As our friend Metin would say, ” thank you, it tastes disgusting” he is Turkish and from Trabzon, enough said!
When we arrived the organizers and publicity guys were so glad to see us, they followed us around with camera’s, I’m quite expecting to be on the front page of the Konya Express…. Or maybe a centre page pullout?
As we entered the exhibition and arts centre a small inside market with handmade souvenirs and gifts of the dervishes were visible, as well as many differently patterned Ta Wiz’s, jewellery, ceramic pots and there were even some beautifully decorated glasses. As we made our way into the ampitheatre style arena, a large, circular performance area, there were already many seats occupied. Soon, the whole place was full, and the performance began…
The first thing that happened, was a welcome from the people at the Konya tourism industry, and a band from the Istanbul music institute came and played some traditional music. I think a pop star or two might have shown up because a crowd of young girls in hijabs started screaming and whistling (!? ) Geoff was a little put out because Justin Beiber was nowhere in sight! Soon it was time for the Dervish performance to begin.
The Sema ritual is made up of seven different sections. The ritual is meant to represent the true journey to maturity and enlightenment and overtime, it has become part of Turkish tradition, beliefs and history, despite Rumi coming from Persia, which is modern day Iran. The first section of the ritual begins with a “na’t”-(I.e, eulogy)-exalting Prophet Muhammed, who represents divine love. The name for this part is called the “Na’t-l Serif”
Afterwards, part two continues the same exalting like in the first one, but also in this sections, the sound of the special dervish drum, called a Kudûm, is banged upon.
When all of the exalting has stopped, the third part begins with the haunting sound of a flute, called a Ney. It is meant to represent the Breath of God.
The fourth section is when the dervishes walk out in a circle and give a greeting to their friends they do this three times.
Each Selam has its own meaning. In the fifth part, there are many selams.
The first is the humans perception of his own service and of his glorious creator.
The second, is a human beings total amazement in the presence of Allah’s power.
The Third, is a humans sacrificing his mind to “love”, and all of his feelings to “love”. This is said to be your way of surrendering to Allah, and becoming part of him. In Islam, it is called “Fenafillah”, meaning “Die before you die”.
The last Selam is his completion of his spiritual journey. The Seyh Efendi and the the Semazenbasi take part in the “turning” of this Selam. At this point, they are both overjoyed having faith in the Prophets, Books-(I.e.-The Quran, The Torah)-, The Angels and Allah.
After some final prayers, the two elders are drowned in happiness, since the dervishes managed to follow the words of Prophet Muhammad, ( Die before you die).
The whole section is accompanied by a musical prelude, featuring instruments such as the Rebab-(a three stringed violin type instrument, made of a halved coconut, and stretched cattle heart, and horse hair). The Ney-(a flute made of strong, special type of Reed)-, the Kudûm-(a copper made instrument, with two drum)-, and a pair of Cymbals.
The real dancing begins when the worshippers get permission from the eldest Seyh Efendi’s, by kissing him on the hand, and taking his large black hirka-(long, baggy overalls)-off, and show there white, long robe underneath. With their right arms extended towards the heavens and there left arm pointing to the ground, Grace from above is received from Allah, and is distributed to humanity. The dancers gracefully spin, and in unionson, all the dervishes eventually start spinning together, creating a hypnotic power.
The Sixth section is carrying on with the Sema Ceremony, with the people reciting:
“The East and West belong to Allah. To whatever direction you turn, the face of Allah is there. Because Allah is limitless and wise.”
When the performance comes to an end, the dervishes pray for the safety of there government, and then withdraw back to there Cells, without talking to anybody.
This is all very religious it seems, but as a mere spectator and with no Muslim values or teachings at all the whole ritual is completely inspiring and awesome. Words or photographs cannot show or explain how the emotion created from the whirling dervishes affects those watching. It doesn’t send you into a euphoria but being able to watch these men and boys obviously reaching a state of hypnotic trance is amazing. Rumi is becoming more recognized now in Western Society as his poems are translated and their meanings become more and more relevant to a peace seeking community. In the past he was mostly famous with Turkish Muslims and Iranians who still read his writings in the old Persian language.
Come close… closer… even closer!
How long will this hindrance last?
If you are me and I am you,
What is this separation between you and me?
We are the light of God, we are God‛s mirror.
So why do we struggle with ourselves and with one another?
Why does one light escape from another?
Come, release yourself from this ego.
Live in harmony with everyone;
Be friendly with everyone.
If you are by yourself,
You are only one drop, one speck;
Whereas when you bond and unite with everyone,
You are an ocean, you are an ore.
There are many languages but all are the same meaning.
Water in different cups becomes one when the cups are broken and they run as one.
Hz. Mevlana Jalaluddin Mohammad Balkhi Rumi
There is so much to learn and so much to read about him and his friend Sharm, I can’t wait for tomorrow.
Tomorrow we are going to park in the centre of the city, and visit the Mevlâna museum and anything close to the vicinity before the temperature drops again. Weather forecasts are indicating minus thirteen over the next few days! Come back FETHIYE!!!