Known for its history, art, and culture, Turkiye is home to infinite destinations which can spell-bound travellers looking for a unique, unforgettable experience. With unique beauty, unparalleled attraction and magical landscapes, the transcontinental nation always remains on top of global tourists.
The country that has always been a hub for cultural interaction and home to varying climates inspires the visitors today with its history, nature, and gastronomy that reflect the diversity of civilizations for centuries. One such hidden gem is centrally located Konya – a beautiful city located in Turkiye’s Central Anatolia region.
Known as a popular pilgrimage destination for Sufis, the city of Konya is most popular because of Mevlana order’s founder, Jelaleddin Rumi, who is considered one of the world’s great mystic philosophers, and his poetry and religious writings are among the most beloved and respected in Islam and beyond. In Turkey, Rumi is fondly remembered by his followers as Mevlana — which means scholar.
Konya, also referred to as the city of ‘whirling dervishes’ is a cradle of many civilizations historically. Also known for its outstanding Seljuk architecture, the city lights up every during the Şeb-i Arus ((the Night of Union or Wedding Night) ceremony. Every December 17, the night of Rumi’s death, thousands of people from all around the world gather at the magnificent 13th century Mevlana Museum to celebrate Seb-i Arus, his ‘Wedding Day’, his reunion with his Beloved, with the Divine.
Whirling dervishes perform a ‘Sema’ performance – a controlled, trance-like turning. Sema, the whirling dervish ceremony is credited to Rumi and has become a part of Turkish customs, history, beliefs, and culture. The Sema ceremony represents the mystical journey of man’s spiritual ascent through mind and love to perfection.
ETTravelWorld got the opportunity to witness the recent Şeb-i Arus ceremony on December 17 and experience was no less than mesmerizing. The whirling dervishes resonated a sense of belonging, art reflecting love and friendship, a message of taking knowledge from the lord and passing on the others. Before the whirling starts, the dervishes have their arms crossed in front of them, a gesture representing the unity of God. During whirling, they open their arms, right hands towards the sky and left hands to the earth, symbolizing God’s beneficence from heaven and giving of love to all people.
The Mevlevi Sema Ceremonies that describe divine love in artistic terms with choreography and complex musical structure are performed at least twice a week throughout the summer, particularly in Istanbul and Konya. The Konya Turkish Sufi Music and Istanbul Historical Turkish Music Groups established under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism also perform at events that include Mevlevi services.
Mevlevi culture emerged in the 13th century, was developed, and changed over time and became an important part of Turkish history and culture. The way to preserve and keep it alive, especially the Sema ceremony, is to teach it to future generations without marring the technical and internal perfection and originality of the tradition. In order to ensure that the Mevlevi Sema Ceremonies are performed without compromising their essence, a protective action plan has been drawn up that includes not only the Ministry of Culture and Tourism but many civil society organisations as well.
The recent the Seb-i Arus ceremony was the 749th commemoration ceremony with the program calendar titled ‘Time for Friendship’; Various cultural events such as poetry recitals, exhibitions, concerts and theater were at many different points such as Mevlana Cultural Center, Konya State Theatre, Mevlana Museum, Selcuklu Congress Center.
Speaker of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey Mustafa Şentop and Minister of Culture and Tourism Mehmet Nuri Esroy also attended the ceremony. Sharing his thoughts, Şentop stated that not more bombs, wars, occupations, tears, but love, tolerance and justice will make the world beautiful.
“Love is healing. Love is power. Love is the seal of change. is to strike this seal of change so that this voice, which humanity needs, will resonate all over the world. Commemorating Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi is possible beyond commemorating a historical person who lived 8 centuries ago, it is possible to understand him in every aspect and bring him to this age. Therefore, as the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Mevlana is recognised and his thoughts are known. We attach special importance to Mevlana and Mesnevi centers not only in the country but especially abroad. We are working on. Hopefully, we will continue to increase these efforts and offer them to the benefit of people,” he said.
Speaking to the group of international press during a meetup, Esin Celebi,the great granddaughter of Rumi from the 22nd generation talked about how Rumi’s learnings are still spreading the message of love and friendship. Celebi, who is also Vice President of the International Mevlana Foundation also mentioned about the efforts they are putting on to educate more and more people around the world about Rumi’s teachings and how important he was for all faiths. “We have visited many countries around the world to spread Rumi’s ideas. Our foundation is working actively with Turkish authorities in tandem to spread Rumi’s thoughts to the entire world,” she mentioned.
Taking forward the legacy of sufism, the city of Konya has also emerged as an attractive tourist destination for international tourists. Its central location and accessible connectivity to key cities of Tukriye – Ankara and Istanbul make Konya way more important tourist hub than just being an important pilgrimage destination. The city, with a population close to 2 million is quickly emerging as a manufacturing hub as well.
In India, Rumi might have a small number of followers but the influence of his work on the art and culture – especially poetry has been significant. For most, Rumi is a symbol of harmony among different faiths and cultures, and a spiritual guide in India. Some find similarities between Indian Vedantic or other spiritual texts in Rumi’s work.