All the way from Turkey the hundreds-year-old mystical religious tradition of whirling dervishes are coming to New Orleans for a one-of-a-kind performance.
Whirling Dervishes of Rumi Coming to New Orleans All the Way From Turkey
This is not the first time the dervishes have been to the Crescent City. A year before Katrina these holy men graced the Mahalia Jackson Theatre for a performance.
Who are the dervishes and who is Rumi?
Back in the 13th century in Konya, Turkey Mevlânâ Jalāl ad-Dīn Rumi was a Sufi mystic who became known for his beautiful, transcendent poetry. In fact Rumi is considered to be the most popular poet in American today. Sufism is the mystical branch of Islam which honors and embraces all religions. In fact to many fundamental Muslims Sufism is considered heresy and many Sufi mosques and and sacred sites have been destroyed in recent years.
Much of his poetry would be considered ecstatic because he transmitted much of it to his disciples when he entered states of ecstasy in his communion with the Divine. It was in these states that he began his whirling and his disciples soon followed in this practice. The poems are universal and inspiring and can be enjoyed by anyone of any religion and even by those who have none.
The whirling is really a religious practice of these Sufi Muslims, creating state of communion and ecstasy with the divine. Those who have never seen this may think that the dervish is spinning wildly. But he is not. The turning is slow and contemplative, almost like a meditation in action.
The effect on the audience is profound. You hear this beautiful music and watch as the dervishes slowly turn moving across the stage eyes closed. I’ve seen them twice and strangely I found myself transfixed and entered an altered state sitting there in my comfortable chair in the theatre.
The dervishes are not paid and travel the world giving performances. In their everyday lives in Turkey they have normal jobs, are shopkeepers or are retired. They do this as contribution to people and as a way to let others share a little bit of their personal religious lives and an experience of the world of Rumi and Sufism.
The Atlas Interfaith website states:
If you’re looking to put a spiritual spin on your evening and enjoy cultural music, you might want to check out the Turkish troupe “The Whirling Dervishes of Rumi” when they dance into New Orleans.
Group members are adorned in long, traditional white robes and spin about the stage as they interpret the teachings of the 13th Century Turkish mystic and poet Rumi.
“The Whirling Dervishes” will take the stage at 7 p.m., February 4th at the Louis J. Roussel Performance Hall, Loyola University New Orleans. “The Whirling Dervishes” have drawn acclaim for their unique forms of spiritual performance and accompanying reed flutes, drums and chants.
You can click this link to buy tickets and you can also pay at the door.
For an added bonus you can see me reading some Sufi poetry on stage during this special event.