Turkey’s famous Whirling Dervishes are preparing to fly across the globe to perform “down under” to celebrate the centenary of the World War I battle of Gallipoli, marking 100 years of peace between Australia and Turkey.
Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard named 2015 the “Year of Turkey in Australia” in 2012.
The Australia tour of the Whirling Dervishes of the Mevlevi Order of Konya will entail a series of free concerts, orchestrated by the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism in partnership with the Turkish Embassy in Canberra.
Accompanying the dervishes will be the Sufi Music Ensemble, founded in 1989 by the Turkish Ministry of Arts and Culture to preserve and continue traditions of Sufi dance and music.
Murat Yücel, a Sydney-based musician and promoter who has been bringing mainly Turkish acts to Australia for the past nine years, said, “[The performance] holds an appeal for the greater Australian public as well as the Turkish community.”
“In recent years Sufi music has become popular in music therapy… There are more natural tones,” he added.
“Western music is built on semi tones, whereas in Sufi music a tone is divided into nine notes, which means it’s more complex and has more moods and emotions. That is one of the reasons it induces a prayer induced trance-like state.”
The dance of the Whirling Dervishes, also known as the Sema ceremony, has been declared by UNESCO as one of the “Masterpieces of the Oral and Cultural Heritage of Humanity.”
Speaking about the Australian tour, Mithat Özçakıl, son of Whirling Dervishes spiritual leader FahriÖzçakıl, said “Rumi plays a very important role in the peace process because of his tolerance.” “Between our two countries, brotherhood is equivalent to Rumi’s tolerance.”
Referring to the Sufi philosophy as among the most inclusive worldwide due to its belief in the oneness of the universe, Özçakıl added, “When we say Rumi, we see his humanistic side. He is not only for Muslims… Because God created them [humans], nationality is not important.”
Özçakıl stressed that the origin of Sufism rests on love and tolerance. “You have to love each human being. The fight is always within us, not with others. Our focus as dervishes is to kill our ego and desire,” he said.