Whirling Dervishes Show Istanbul

Normal ticket value: €15

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Free with Istanbul E-pass

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Istanbul E-pass includes a one-hour Whirling Dervishes live performance located at Sultanahmet - Istanbul old city center.

Whirling Dervishes

Whirling Dervishes are following a Sufi mystic tradition of the religion Islam. In the 12th century, one of the philosophers of the religion Islam opened the path of pure love tradition and led to the Mevlevi Sufi Order´s creation. The name Mevlevi comes from the creator of the order Mevlana Jelaleddini Rumi. Once, his book Rumi was even a top seller in the USA.

When it comes to the act of whirling, the followers have an exciting philosophy for the act. In the old days, when the Mevlevi Monasteries were still open, the teachers had to be accepted if someone wanted to be a student. The order´s creator, Mevlana, once said anyone who tried to follow the order to be a student is more than welcome to see the order. So, there was no negative answer for someone who wanted to enter the order in the school. In the initiation though, they were given challenging tasks to complete to show they have whatever it takes to be students. After working in the kitchens to cook for everyone, cleaning all the monastery daily, and doing lots of hard jobs in the sanctuary, they may start studying the order. Whirling is the final act to say that they are accepted in the order, but the real question is, what is the exact meaning of this act? Whirling means to be in harmony with the rest of the creation to them. According to the Mevlevi order, everything was created in the action of whirling, exactly like day and night, summer and winter, life and death, and even the blood in the veils. If you want to be in harmony with the rest of the creation, you have to be in the same form of action. Every costume that they use, any musical instrument during the performance, has a definite meaning. Black costumes, for instance, symbolize death, white ones mean birth, the long hats they are wearing symbolize tombstones of their ego, and so on.

In the Republic of Turkey, all of these monasteries were banned by the government because of secularity. So all of these former monasteries were converted into museums. Today, several culture centers organize Whirling Dervish ceremonies. Before the Whirling Dervishes ceremony, you may stroll into the hall for extra information about the ritual and have your welcome drinks. During the performance, whirling dervishes are accompanied by the musicians with their authentic musical instruments.

Mevlevi Ceremony

The Mevlevi Sema ceremony is a Sufi ceremony that symbolizes the degrees of the path to Allah, contains religious elements and themes, and has detailed rules and qualities in this form. Mevlevi was the son of Mavlana Jalaluddin Rumi. It was performed in a disciplined manner starting from the time of Sultan Veled and Ulu Arif Celebi. These rules were developed until the time of Pir Adil Celebi and have taken their final form to the present day.

The ceremony consists of NAAT, ney Taksim, beshrew, Devr-i Veledi, and four Salam sections, which contain different Sufi meanings in integrity with each other. The Sema ceremony is performed with Mevlevi music from the tradition in places where the Mevlevi culture can be accurately transmitted. Mevlana´s works, written in Persian, are the primary sources of the compositions performed by the mutrib delegation (voice and instrument ensemble) during the ceremony. 

This ceremony, which requires care and attention to be performed, carries mystical symbols in many stages from beginning to end. Returning during Sema represents watching Allah in all places and directions. A foot strike is the trampling and crushing of the soul´s unlimited and insatiable desires, fighting it and defeating the soul. Opening your arms to the side is an inability to be the most perfect. The right hand becomes open to the sky and the left hand becomes available to the ground. The right-hand takes feyz (message) from God and the left hand distributes this message to the world.

After a long spiritual and physical training process, the semazens who perform the ceremony become ready for the ritual. All states and attitudes in the Sema area are carried out concerning decency and rules. It is expected that the person who will make Sema will have the capacity to read and understand Mevlana´s written works and the ability to engage in arts such as music, and calligraphy.

The Final Word

Seeing whirling dervishes is a way of altering your normal state of consciousness to give it a tour of the magical world.
Watching dancers occupied by a state of hyper consciousness and maintaining an outstanding balance is a magnificent scene. Attending the Whirling Dervishes and Mevlevi ceremony is undoubtedly something you should never miss if you are in the area. With Istanbul E-pass enjoy free entry, which otherwise costs 20 Euros.

Whirling Dervishes Performance Hours

Whirling Dervishes performs every day except Tuesdays.
The performance starts at 19:00, please be ready at the theatre 15 minutes before.

Whirling Dervishes Location

Whirling Dervishes Performance Theater is located in Old City Center.

Important Notes:

  • Show performs every day except Tuesdays.
  • Theather is located in Old City center.
  • Show starts at 19:00, please be ready there 15 minutes before.
  • Present your Istanbul E-pass at the entrance and get access to the performance.
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