Followers of the Sufi dervish order are preparing to celebrate the memory of “Mawlana”, the common name of the thirteenth-century Islamic poet, researcher and mystic, Jalal al-Din al-Rumi, which is held annually in a Turkish city, and in which centuries-old rituals and traditions are practiced.
In preparation for the rituals, Omer Kilic and his 14-year-old son wear two white robes and two black cloaks, but they do not wear seki-shaped conical hats.
Tanura dance robes symbolize the shrouds of the dead, black cloaks to graves, and hats to tombstones, all garments that form part of a centuries-old tradition of dervishes in Turkey.
The dervishes, a method rooted in Sufism, are mainly known for their “sama” rituals, in which they move in unison with the recitation of prayers and verses from the Qur’an.
Kilic has belonged to this Sufi order for 23 years. He works as a tailor and teaches his craft to his student and son, Toprak Evi Kilic.
Kilic says the mystical approach first appeared to him in a dream, after which he decided to start training as a dervish.
Every year, the dervishes of the Mevlevi sect perform their dance in the Turkish city of Konya, where thousands attend a week-long series of events and celebrations in memory of Rumi.
Rumi, known as Mevlana in Turkey, was born in 1207 in Balkh, the city in what is now Afghanistan. He settled in Konya, in central Turkey, where he died on December 17, 1273. He is considered one of the most important Sufi philosophers, and members of the Mevlevi order follow his teachings.
Instead of mourning his death, celebrations are held in Konya of what his followers believe is the “union of Rumi with God”.
The main feature of the “Night of the Union” is the ritual in which the dervishes circle themselves, symbolically turning their right hand towards God and the left hand towards the earth.
Ahmet Sami Kucuk, the chief dervish of Konya, described the whirling as “an end and a state we reach after years of training and discipline.”
In 2005, UNESCO included this practice among the “Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity”.
The tomb of Rumi in Konya is a museum and a site to visit.
Muhammad Moopen Darwish, one of the visitors, a Kashmiri residing in Britain, said that all lovers of God come to this site to pay homage to Rumi.
Tourism official, Abdul Sattar Yarar, stated that after two years of strict closure due to the Corona pandemic, the site attracted more than 3.1 million visitors this year, 10 percent of whom were from abroad.