Dance of Faith

This is a picture of Sama*, the spiritual dance of what is now widely referred to in the West as “whirling dervishes.” A few years ago, I made the pilgrimage to Konya (Ghouniyeh) in Turkey to attend the annual Resurrection (orooj) ceremonies of Molana (better known as Rumi in the West). I call it a pilgrimage, because it was one of the most important events in my life, transforming me in profound ways. Someday I will write about what I mean by that transformation which happened in a small non-pretentious khaneghah, what I saw and how I felt. It is a tall tale, actually, best said when I feel lighter and better-equipped to deal with the surge of emotions I will have to recall in order that I may tell you about it. For now, I leave you with images of the dance which as I have witnessed personally, is a pilgrimage of sorts in itself, as those I saw performing it in that austere khaneghah in Ghouniyeh, were not attached to anything or anyone around them, but had surrendered to a music and a calling that only they seemed to hear and follow, delivering the most awesome and moving scene to the ones witnessing it. This is a short video clip of the more formal Sama. http://www.whirlingdervishes.org/multimedia/Sema1.wmv . The one I will talk about later, though, was a much more spontaneous dance, with ordinary-looking men and women in it, touching in its simplicity and honesty. I wish you a weekend full of joy and relaxation. For those of you living in these parts, Happy Mother’s Day, regardless of your gender, marital status, and familial situation. We can only aspire to be as good to others as our mothers were to us and to our siblings. On Sunday I will go see a documentary about Iranian filmmakers at the University, findings of which you poor souls will have to read about next week! Be good and happy. * Iranians call it Sama and Turks call it Sema. I borrowed this photograph from the same source as the above video clip.


Leva said...

I was in Turkey for nine months, but I did not have the chance to go and visit Qunia. One of my dream is coming back to Turkey and go there.
However, I used to have a beleiver and I still beleive that only believer allow go there and visit Qunia. I am not a beleiver now.
Sama was one of my big researches when I was in Iran. I remember I wanted to go to Kermanshah once to visit one of Khanghah and Daravish there. I did not, as they did not allowe females in their gathering. I have to find my research papers.
You made me remember those days, when I was young.

Nazy said...

Levaye Azizam:

Going to Ghouniyeh was something I, too, had dreamt about for years. When a set of interesting and unexpected events took me there all by myself, I didn't know what to expect. I participated in the formal events planned for the annual December ceremonies, but again, quite by accident I went to a private Khaneghah-e-Daravish there. There I saw true believers, men and women, from many different nationalities, who participated in Zekr, playing music and singing spritual songs. The Zekr was intoxicating to watch and hear, and it was so intense that it literally pulled some of those men and women off their sitting positions and brought them to Sama. In a very small room, there were five or six people whirling at a time, completely unaware of all those around them. It was so powerful to listen and to watch that I couldn't bear keeping my eyes open after a while. It truly was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had in my life, filled with thoughts and reflections I didn't know I was capable of having. It was an experience I would like to have again. Perhaps we could go together sometime! Do let me see your research papers when you find them, please. I have a couple of books on the subject, too, which you might want to see. Be good Leva.

Karim said...

Happy mother's day Nazy khanoom.

Nazy said...

Thank you very much Karim Jan, and the same to your lovely wife. Thanks for coming to visit again.

serendip said...

Great picture.

If you think about it, everything whirls, from an atom till earth so that they are whirling. Right hand is turned up for god and left hand is turned down for humans. Head has an angle like earth has. What they do is a form of ritual and is a bridge to the divine; it's absolutely beautiful.

If you want to see what power, grace and dedication the dervishes have, watch the movie "BARAKA". It is a beautiful, devoutly spiritual display of love for all humanity.

Nazy said...

Thanks Serendip! I'm glad I am not alone in appreciating this. Yes, the circular pattern does seem to take place in many things in our universe. Even our lives seem to be circular, turning around some invisible orbits.

I read in Step by Step Till We Meet God (Pelleh Pelleh Ta Molaghat-e Khoda) by Dr. Abdolhossein Zarrinkoub, in which he describes a Sama scene with Molana in the Goldsmith's market in Ghouniyeh, he says that the goldsmiths were beating gold with hammers to shape them into jewelery when Molana and his group arrived. The simple noise of hammers hitting the metal was reason enough for Molana to start dancing the Sama, which went on for a long time, and the goldsmiths who didn't want to break Molana's trance-like concentration, kept making the noise, until all gold was crumpled into tiny shreds, and their valuable investment had disappeared, so in awe they were of the scene of Sama by Molana. I'm grateful for the chance to think about this subject; something deeply peaceful happens to me when I do. Thanks and be good Serendip.

Mehran said...

Happy mother's day

Nazy said...

Mehran Jan:

Thank you and a very happy Mother's Day to your mother, too. I wish her good health to be 100, making best friends with your children when they are here (no rush!).