Istanbul: Mevlevi Sema and the Whirling Dervishes Show
When it comes to cultural rituals and shows, Istanbul is one of the most respected cities for both tourists and locals alike. The city’s traditional ritual of Mevlevi Sema and the whirling dervishes show is something you shouldn’t miss if you’re in the city.
The show, which features various kinds of music and beautiful costumes, is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city. It’s a beautiful mixture of music and dance that mesmerizes audiences with its ancient traditions.
The practice and origin of the show’s Mevlevi Sema dates back to the 13th century and was founded by Jalaluddin Rumi, a famous poet and scholar in Istanbul. It was believed that during the ritual of whirling and listening to music, the Sufis would enter a trance state to experience spiritual elevation in their circle of worship called ‘Sema’.
The ritual is also popularly known as the “Halvet’ or “Sema’ in Turkish, which means ‘listening’. It consists of a group of people performing a choreographed ‘Sema’ with music and whirling movements around their center for about an hour. The dervishes wear long white robes representing their unique identity, along with special hats called ‘Sikke’, meant to symbolize the tombstone of the Prophet Mohammed.
The spectators of this unique show are left mesmerized from the beauty of it all. The constant movements, music and rhythms create an atmosphere of celebration and worship which are very hard to resist.
The ‘Mevlevi Sema and the Whirling Dervishes show’ is considered to be one of the best spiritual experiences one can encounter in Istanbul, where tourists can see this ancient ritual being practiced with utmost sincerity and devotion.
Though it might seem easy to attend this show, there are certain things that a tourist should keep in mind before attending this mesmerizing show.
Tips Before Attending The Mevlevi Sema and the Whirling Dervishes Show
- Plan your tickets in advance – If you’re planning on attending this show, it’s a good idea to book your tickets in advance, so you can have peace of mind. Tickets are available from GetYourGuide.com.
- Dress appropriately – Since this is a spiritual and religious ceremony, it’s important to dress appropriately before attending the show. Men should wear plain trousers and a shirt with a closed collar, while women should wear long skirts or trousers that cover their legs.
- Don’t disturb – Of course, you want to get the best experience out of watching the performance, but it’s important to remember that this is a religious ceremony, so be sure not to disturb or make any noise that may interrupt the performance.
- Be on time – To respect the performers, be sure to come on time to avoid disrupting the ceremony.
The Meaning Behind Mevlevi Sema
At its core, Mevlevi Sema or ‘Sema’ is an Islamic spiritual practice that has been practiced by Sufi mystics for centuries. It is believed that this ancient tradition helps people reach a state of spiritual elevation, enlightenment and love for their Creator. During this ritual, dervishes retreat into an inner world of contemplation by whirling and listening to music with their eyes closed, as they meditate on their own personal connection with God.
The ritual begins with Tanburi Cemil Bey playing various kinds of songs on the instrument known as a Tanbur (similar to a lute). This is followed by chanting prayers by Allami Reşid Effendi as each group performs their Personal Sema. The ritual ends after all participants have finished their whirling and returned to their initial position.
What Can You Expect From A Mevlevi Sema and a Whirling Dervish Show?
Most shows usually take place in one of two venues: the Galata Mevlevi Hall or at the Yenikapi Mevlevi Hall. In both venues, you can expect to witness an awe-inspiring mystic display featuring music performed by a clarinetist and saxophonist, traditional Turkish folk singers singing verses from Rumi’s poetry, readings from the Qur’an, followed by whirling and chantings. During each segment of the performance, you will see the dervishes’ movements faster as they reach towards inner being.
The performers keep their eyes closed throughout the whole routine to give them a sense of ecstatic bliss enabling them to connect with their inner selves as they whirl around the stage. This is what gives the performance its mystical flair. As the performance nears its end, you will witness all the dervishes slowly start forming a circle once again before they end this beautiful piece by bowing their heads in respect.
Going to see The Mevlevi Sema and The Whirling Dervishes Show in Istanbul can be an unforgettable experience for anyone interested in experiencing something spiritual and unique. Not only will you get to witness a centuries-old tradition but also you may find that it leaves you with a sense of newfound joy as you connect with your inner-self for a few moments. To truly experience this amazing show, book your tickets here!
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