Mevlevi Sema Ceremony
The Serna is a 700 year old ritual or rite of communal recitation, combining the poetry of Mevlana, Turkish classical music, chanting from Qu'ran and the whirling of Dervishes. The Sema traditionally performed in the semahane, an octagonal domed room attached to a mosque. It symbolized the attainment of the various levels fo mystical union with God and absolute perfection through spiritual fervor. The whirling Dervish is the icon of the Mevlevi order of Sufism, a branch of Islam that is based on the teachings of the mystic poet, Rumi. In addtion to fasting, praying and studying the Qu'ran that marks the typical practice of Islamic, a Sufi partakes in zikr(dhikr), ameditation tool of repeating certain words of God as litanies after prayer, and extra practices, of which the whirling ritual is the most important. The Dede is the representative of Mevlana on earth. From Dede’s animal skin extends an imaginary line across the flor of the chamber, regarded as the cosmic guide to the ultimate truth. The Dervish wears a white coat over a long white skirt, which represents his burial garment. These are covered by a black cloak, which represents his tomb or worldy attachments. The conical brown felt hat represents his tombstone. The ritual starts with a communal recitation followed by a recital of the ney, a turkish flute. The wailing of the ney expresses longing for ultimate. They let fall their black cloaks to symbolize their escape from the tomb and readiness for God. Before beginning to whirl, the Dervishes bow to Dede. They bow to one another and move in three rotations to symbolize resurrection and spiritual rebirth. Then they began to turn slowly. Right arms are above the body palm facing upward, whereas left hands face downward. This symbolizes that what they get from God’s grace and blessing, they pass on the world. The Dervishes begin move faster and faster to summon the divine. According to Mevlana, with the Sema, Dervishes can reach out and touch the ‘ultimate’. Dervishes claim that repeating the Islamic name of God (Allah, Allah, Allah) with every revolution reminds the Semazen (whirling Dervish) of the Rumi tenet ‘Wherever you turn is God. It is this that keeps them from getting dizzy, losing their balance or knocking into one another. It takes at least a year for a Dervish to learn how to whirl. The Dervishes are everyday people; students, workers, professors, etc. They are aloud to marry and have families. Sema is a piritual act, a religious ritual, so please do not expect a show and do not applaud while or after watching.