The order of Mevlevi, better known in the west as the Whirling Dervishes, was founded by the 13th century Sufi mystic, Celaleddin Rumi, who was also known as Mevlana. He was a poet, who believed that music and dance provided the means to enter a religious state of ecstasy thereby discovering divine love, and formed a religion, or philosophy based on tolerance.
His most famous poem represents the central beliefs of Sufism:
Come, come, whoever you are, come!
Heathen, fire-worshipper or idolator, come!
Come even if you have broken your penitence a hundred times,
Ours is the door of hope, come as you are.
SUFI WHIRLING DERVISHES
Mevlevi are also known as the Whirling Dervishes due to their famous practice of whirling as a form of remembrance of God. Dervish is a common term for an initiate of the Sufi path; the whirling is part of the formal Mevlevi Sema Ceremony and the participants are properly known as Semazen.
There were dervish lodges or tekke throughout Anatolia but Konya, where he settled, was the centre of the movement.
Mevlana Museum, situated in the original tekke can be visited there today where there is a Mevlana Festival held in December every year in Konya.
Central to the religion is the sema, the ceremony, the climax of which is the whirling dance. It is performed in traditional symbolic costume of a conical hat or sikke, which represents the tombstone of the ego, and white robes or tennure, which represent its shroud.
The dervish whirls with his right hand pointed upwards towards God and his left pointing down to the earth to the accompaniment of the “Ney” or reed pipe.