Wednesday, March 22, 2006

UNESCO to declare 2007 'The Year of Mevlana'

Erkan's post titled UNESCO to declare 2007 'The Year of Mevlana' set me searching for more information. Erkan had linked to a newspaper article that began, Culture and Tourism Ministry Undersecretary Mustafa İsen said 2007 was the 800th anniversary of the birth of famous Turkish philosopher and poet Mevlana, and therefore they submitted a proposal to UNESCO to officially declare 2007 as the “Year of Mevlana” to mark the 800th anniversary of his birth.

You see, I twice saw the Sufis perform their Whirling Dervish in the Mevlevi Monastery in Istanbul. They stunned me but it's something you need to see for yourself.

The Lonely Planet wrote, Tucked away off a street named after one of the great poets of the sect, Galip Dede, the museum centres on an 18th-century lodge, within which is a beautiful octagonal wooden dance floor. Here, for the benefit of visitors, the sema (ritual dance) is performed by a group of latter-day Sufi devotees. At 3pm a dozen or so dancers unfurl their great circular skirts to whirl round the room in an extraordinary state of ecstatic meditation, accompanied by haunting music.

Searching the web I discovered a blog titled Sufi News and Sufism World Report and there Dr. Alan Godlas from the Department of Religion at the University of Georgia writes that, On the occasion of the 800th anniversary of Mevlana’s birthday, the great Peace Competition of Mevlana, otherwise known as Rumi, the great Iranian poet of the 13th century AD, will be held in Konya, Turkey in 2007.

I also noticed Wiliam Dalrymple's name on his site and was curious; Dalrymple is one of my favourite travel writers. He hooked me when I read his book titled In Xanadu, A Quest . But back to the Sufi site and it seems that Dalrymple has made a movie called Sufi Soul .

In it, Dalrymple travelled across South Asia — from Morocco and Turkey to Pakistan and India — finding out about this religion. The hour-long film covers quite a few aspects of Sufism — the whirling dervishes inspired by the poet and Sufi saint Rumi, the underground Sufis in Istanbul who have been forbidden to practice, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and his nephew Rahat and even the qawwali sessions in the Nizamuddin Dargah.


wandering-woman said...

Man, I love following the things you find.

Do you HAVE to get work permission and a job?
I have a tattered, dogeared, much used and beloved copy of a book of Rumi poems....but when I started this post I had no idea Rumi was Mevlana...

woman wandering said...

Thank you ...!! I'm never sure when I go of in search of a little more on a subject and it turns into a big post.

You made me smile with your comment ... it will be years before I can officially work here ... or so it seems at the moment.

Rumi ... I was fascinated by the whole thing but never had the time to explore much. The people who ran it were interesting too. I hope to get back to Istanbul one day and follow up every thing I was curious about and didn't have time for while working.