Whirling Dervishes Ceremony or Show (“Sema” in Turkish) is one of the most visited attractions in Istanbul with the tourists. It is because that this ceremony is a very unusual event for the tourists and when they hear about it, majority of them try to catch this one hour show and witness the miracle of the whirling dervishes. Before we tell about where to find the Whirling Dance Ceremony in Istanbul, we want to give brief information below about what are the Whirling Dervishes and the Ceremony and why they do whirl?
What Is the Whirling Dervishes Ceremony (Sema)?
Whirling dance ceremony, “Sema” in Turkish, is a mystical ceremony and part of the most important heritages from the Islam culture, inspired and improved by Mevlana Celaleddin-i Rumi (1207-1273), a world famous Islamic mystical poet, theolegian and a spiritual master (Sufi). It originates from the city of Konya and dates back to more than 800 years.
Sufis (Mevlevi in Turkish), also called Dervishes, are the ones who are dedicated their lives to seek and find a more close relationship with God. And according to Mevlana’s disciples, this mystical journey for God is made through worship, prayers, a complex musical repertoire called “ayin” and this unique whirling dance ceremony. The Sufis who make this whirling dance ceremony are called Whirling Dervishes, “Semazen” in Turkish.
Who Performs the Ceremony?
The Whirling Dervishes performances are organised by local non-profit groups.
Why They Whirl?
Whirling dervished ceremony is a mystical journey representing the Man’s spiritual ascent through mind, going towards the truth, be exalted with love and quit from his own “self” to get vanished in God and than coming back as a more matured man.
What is the Idea in this Disciple?
When we examine this mystical ceremony in scientific terms, we see that the whirling or spinning act is the basic condition of existance. The common similarity between the beings in the universe, from the smallest bit to the farthest stars, is the rotation of the electrons and protons within their atoms, which forms the structure of each being. And while everything whirls, we, the human beigns also whirl naturally and unconsciously by means the body atoms’ spins, the turning journey of the blood in the body, coming from the earth and returning to the earth and turning with the world along the universe.
What makes the human beings different and above from the other beings is the “Mind”. And so the Dervishes participate to all those beings common turnings with their whirls together with their minds. And so they make a mystical journey for God and come back to its servitude as a human being. It is return to all beings and creatures with a new spirit, love and service. As Whirling dervishes take off their coats, they do take a mystical journey to the eternal world and the truth.
Where to Watch the Whirling Dervishes Performance in Istanbul?
- Galata Mevlevi Lodge (Mevlevihanesi) – Located in the end of the Istiklal Avenue in Taksim, through the Tunel, it is the most famous center and museum for Mevlevis. Turkish calligraphic art items, music items and items belonging to Mevlevi culture are exhibited at the center. Whirling Dervishes Performance takes place every Sunday at 17:00. Tickets cost around 90 TL.
- Yenikapi Mevlevi Lodge in Yenikapi district, Eyup Bahariye Mevlevi Lodge in Eyup district, İsmail Dede Efendi Mevlevi Lodge in Cankurtaran. In the high season, they offer Whirling Dervishes Performance every day at 19:00. All the halls ask for reservation. You may take info and make reservation from +90 505 – 678 06 18 , +90 535 – 210 45 65 , www.rumimevlevi.com
- The Hodjapasha Culture Center– Located in Eminonu, close to the Sirkeci train station and set in a restored 550-year-old Ottoman Turkish bath, it is the most tourist taking venue for Whirling Dervishes Performance. Whirling Dervishes Performance takes place every day at 19:00 (Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday in winter). They also offer Turkish Dance shows, a combination of folk dances performed by professional dancers.
- The Sirkeci Train Station Orient Express Hall– Located in Eminonu, in the Orient Express Hall of the Sirkeci train station, in a historical venue, it is also one of the most tourist taking venues for Whirling Dervishes Performance. Whirling Dervishes Performance takes place every day at 19:30 (except Tuesdays).
Our recommendation for you to catch the best Whirling Dervishes Performance is Hodjapasha Culture Center and Sirkeci Train Station Orient Express Hall. Note that as this Whirling Dervishes Performance is very popular among the majority of the tourists, you should buy your tickets at least 2 or 3 days before the show.
Book Dervish Dancing Tickets online as many dates are selling out quickly
Hodjapasha ticket €20 — Orient Express ticket €12 — Bosphorus Sema Diner Cruise €40