SEMA CEREMONY – A SPIRITUAL JOURNEY OF DERVISHES, WHIRLING FOR DIVINE LOVE
The Mevlevi Sema Ceremony symbolize the mystical journey of man’s spiritual ascent through mind and love to perfection. It is one of the most important heritages of Turkish Culture as a tradition of 800 years old. This unique traditional ritual had been proclaimed as Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2005. Sema is part of the inspiration of Mevlana Celaleddin-i Rumi as well as of Turkish custom, history, beliefs and culture. It is what we do as a form of remembrance of God.
MEVLANA CELALEDDIN-I RUMI
Mevlana Celaleddin-i Rumi is a 13th century Muslim saint and Anatolian mystic known throughout the world for his exquisite poems and words of wisdom, which have been translated into many languages. The United Nations declared 2007 The Year of Rumi and celebrations were held worldwide.
Mevlana was a Muslim, but not an orthodox type. His doctrine advocates unlimited tolerance, positive reasoning, goodness, charity and awareness through love. To him all religions were more or less truth. Mevlana looked with the same eye on Muslim, Jew and Christian alike. His peaceful and tolerant teachings have appealed to men of all sects and creeds. In 1958, Pope John XXIII wrote a special message saying: “In the name of the Catholic World, I bow with respect before the memory of Rumi.”
Come, come again, whoever you are, come!
Heathen, Fire Worshipper or Idolatrous, come!
Come even if you broke your penitence hundred times,
Ours is a portal of hope, come as you are!
Mevlana Celaleddin-i Rumi
Sema consists of seven parts:
Part One: The dervish with his headdress (his ego’s tombstone), his white skirt (his ego’s shroud) is removing his black cloak spiritually born to the truth, he journeys and advances there. At the onset and each stop of the Sema, holding his arms crosswise he represent the number one, and testifies to God’s unity. While whirling his arms are open, his right hand directed to the skies ready to receive God’s beneficence, looking to his left hand turned toward the earth, he turn from right to left around the heart. This is his way of conveying God’s spiritual gift to the people upon whom he looks with the eyes of God. Revolving around the heart, from right to left, he embraces all the mankind, all the creation with affection and love… It starts with an eulogy “Nat-I Serif” to the Prophet, who represents love, and all Prophets before him. To praise them is praising God, who created all of them.
Part Two is a drum voice, symbolizing God order to the Creation: “Be.”
Part Three is an instrumental improvisation “taksim” with a reed “ney.” It represents the first breath which gives life to everything. The Divine Breath.
Part Four is the “dervishes” greetings to each other and their thrice repeated circular walk “Devr-i Veled,” with the accompaniment of a music called “peshrev.” It symbolize the salutation of soul to soul concealed by shapes and bodies.
Part Five is the Sema (whirling). It consists of four salutes or “Selam”s. At the end of each as in the onset, the dervish testifies by his appearance to God’s unity.
The first salute is man’s birth to truth by feeling and mind. His complete conception of the existence of God as Creator and his state of creature.
The second salute expresses the rapture of man witnessing the splendor of creation, in front of God’s greatness and omnipotence.
The third salute is the transformation of rapture into love and thereby the sacrifice of mind to love. It is a complete submission, it is annihilation of self with in the loved one, it is unity. This state of ecstasy is the highest grade in Buddhism, defined as “Nirvana” and in Islam “Fenafillah.” However, the highest rank in Islam is the rank of the Prophet, he is called God’s servant first and his messenger afterwards. The aim of Sema is not unbroken ecstasy and loss of conscious thought. At the termination of this salute, he approves again by his appearance, arms crosswise the Unity of God, consciously and feelingly.
The forth salute: Just as the Prophet ascends till the “Throne” and then returns to his task on earth, the whirling dervish reaching the state of “Fenafillah,” return to his task in creation, to his state of subservience following the termination of his spiritual journey and his ascent. He is a servant of God, of his Books, of his Prophets and all his creation.
Part Six Sema ends with a reading of the Quran and specially of the verse from sura Bakara 2, verse 115:
Unto God belong the East and the West, and whither over ye turn, you are faced with Him.
He is All-Embracing, All-Knowing.
Part Seven is a prayer for the repose of the souls of all Prophets and all believers.
Whirling Dervishes Program;
- First of all, We pick you up from your hotel,
- Warning about all the cameras and phones is forbidden while the program continuing, before starting program or after finishing the program allowed to the guests who want to take photo and shoot a video .
- No food and beverages service in the program. Just as a drink given traditional sorbet.
- The Program lasts approxiamately 1 hour.
- Total organization takes 2 or 2,5 hours.( with the time between the picking up hotel and drop off hotel or 1.5 hours if the nearest for the ceremony is available)
- Sema ceromony is organised by 2 sessions ,one of them starts 18.00 and ends 19.00 and the other starts 21.00 and ends 22.00.
- Program starts with promotional video for about 10 minutes.
- After video you can watch Dervishes Ceremony.
- Finally you can tour to historical place, meet dervishes and you can get more specific information about the subject from dervishes.
- After the organisation ends we will take you to your hotel.