The order of Mevlevi, better known in the west as the Whirling Dervishes, was founded by the 13th century Sufimystic, 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.

Every year, thousands of people descend on Konya for an annual event in December to commemorate the Mevlana and watch the mesmerising whirling dervishes in their spiritual home.

Central to the philosophy is the sema 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.

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