People usually know something about whirling dervishes – they have seen some entertainment inspired by this order in Turkey or Egypt restaurants, Middle Eastern countries etc, but they are way more than that. Before I was planing to visit Turkish town of Konya in Central Anatolian region (on my way to Cappadocia), the only thing I “knew” about them was that there is an “ancient weird dressing” order, “somewhere” in the world, “whose followers get in some kind of trans” while spinning around. Could not even imagine what an astonishing philosophy lies beneath this seemingly “tourist attraction”! (Read more about it in the follow up tomorrow.)
While I was in Egypt years before going to Cappadocia, I have attended a show allegedly inspired by One Thousand and One Nights’ tales (weird mixture for tourists!). Besides belly dancers, they have arranged a whirling-man show they said was a dervish. He was spinning in wide colorful robe that was expanding like a balloon.
Another time, couple of years after visiting Konya, there was a “special show-dinner” in one of Damascus’ restaurants, where we (tourists) were entertained by a whirling dervish dance. But fortunately, I knew who dervishes were by than and was acquainted with the fact that it’s not their “purpose” to whirl for tips. Still, most tourists were not even curious.
Anyway, for those of you who might stumble across so called dervishes’ “tourist shows” some day, here is a hint. Whirling dervishes are members of sufi Muslim order, followers of great scholar Mevlana or Rumi who has started the order in the 12th century. The Mevlana Museum with the Mausoleum is located – you’ve guessed it – in the town of Konya!
Don’t expect to see them whirling there at the Museum. Ask if there is a way to have a glimpse into their prayer schedule somewhere in Konya perhaps. I was fortunate enough to see the group of real Turkish dervishes who visited Serbia few years back and performed a part of their prayer routine in Belgrade’s theater. And what a performance that was!