Sufi whirling is a form of Sama which originated among Sufis. It is a worship ceremony in which performers spin their bodies while listening to music, in an aim to focus on God. This essay will state the inner meaning, which is focusing on God, of the Sufi whirling through analyzing the ritual’s movement, symbols and mood. Sufi whirling is a ritual performed by dervishes, as it is originated among Sufis. They are usually performed inside or outside temples. Performers wear semazen’s camel’s hair hat(sikke), a white shirt and skirt. The skirt is made of billowing material that flows out and around the dancer as they spin. Movement refers to the performers’ body movements, as well as their body gestures. Performers’ movement enables audiences to know about an inner emotive state or feeling of the performers.
In the Sufi whirling ritual, the woman spins outside a temple while listening to music during daytime. Her spinning is stable and smooth, as her arms reach out to balance herself. It shows that she only concentrates on the spinning, as well as the God. As planets and stars circle the sun, and they are created by God, she turns counterclockwise around herself, to show her beliefs in God. The performers movement shows the inner meaning of the performance, which is focusing on and believing in God. (Mevlevi Order of America, 2009) Mood refers to atmosphere created by the performers, and also the feeling of both performers and audiences. Getting the mood of the performance is helpful to get to know the meaning of the performance. In the Sufi whirling ritual, the woman is spinning outside a temple during daytime, trying to focus on God.
She is calm and relaxed, which shows the meditation and connection to God. The audiences do not applaud during the show, but watching the performance in silence with faith. The atmosphere, as well as the mood of the performers and audiences, shows that the Sufi whirling ritual is a spiritual act in which its only aim is abandon the one’s nafs, egos or personal desires, and focus on God. The connection between God and the performers which is shown in the ritual shows that the performers perform the ritual to show their appreciation and beliefs in God. (Sufism and Dervishes) Symbolism refers to anything that has significant meaning in the performance. Understanding what a symbol represents helps us get to know the whole meaning of the performance.
In the Sufi whirling ritual performance, a woman spins outside a temple, with her left hand down and right hand up, during the daytime. Her right arm is directed to the sky, ready to receive the God’s beneficence, while her left hand upon which her eyes are fastened , is turned toward the Earth. This gestures show the respect and beliefs of the dervishes to God and their appreciation to the planet, which is also created by God. The symbolism shown in the Sufi whirling ritual shows the performers are focusing on God and abandon their egos, nafs and personal desires through spinning their bodies. In conclusion, the movement shows that the dervishes are focusing on and believing in God through performing the ritual.
Moreover, through analyzing the mood and atmosphere of the performance, we can see that both the performers and audiences are faithful in God, and the ritual is a spiritual act in which the performers and audiences are trying to connect to God. On the other hand, through studying the symbolism in the Sufi whirling ritual, we get to know that performers are performing the ritual to foucus on God and abandon their egos and personal desires. All in all, the aim of performing the ritual is to abandon one’s nafs, egos or personal desires and focus on God, by listening to the music and spinning one’s body.
Mevlevi Order of America (2009) “The Sema of the Mevlevi”. http://www.hayatidede.org/popups/about_sema.htm Sufism and Dervishes http://www.whirlingdervishes.org/whirlingdervishes.htm
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