Monday, January 7, 2013

Konya, The Mevlana Festival & the whirling dervish

Konya was never high on my radar of must visits until Juana and I had a chit-chat. She explained that Konya was the birthplace of Rumi and the Maulavi sufi order, the Mevlana Festival was also taking place in December. I was sold, we were going.

Konya is an economic hub, reminded me lots of Singapore with its CBD's and rather boring flats. Every December though about 1mil people congregate here for the Mevlana Festival, I witnessed some of that million.

If you're a disciple of Sufism and Rumi, Konya will hold much appeal for you, me being neither if not for the spectacle of semah (the whirling dervish ritual) would find it perhaps a little hard to justify the visit.

The semah was a spectacle of color though, I have a feeling it is done in such a manner to hold attention. The ceremony begins with the head dervish walking out onto the floor followed by his deputy, then disciples. Next follows a worship session, then the whirling. The are 3 rounds of this whirling, followed by another prayer before it ends. Now the symbolism and meaning of semah I will allow you to research and read on your own.

The Mevlana Museum though I felt was a more worthwhile visit. It felt more reverential. The sarcophagus of Rumi, his son & family are all within the compound. There are also beautiful collections of calligraphy, Quran from revered scholars on display. The process of becoming a dervish was also well documented with dioramas.

All in all Konya to me was a quick pitsop. I will however say that I'm now intrigued enough to read more about Rumi, his way of life & teachings. On that account perhaps Konya did fulfill its purpose.

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