FEMALE WHIRLING DERVISHES
Text by Oya Ayman, Photography by Murat Düzyol
Women could not whirl in front of an audience to join the Sufi ‘Sema’ Ceremony until about 10 years ago as it was considered a sin; today more than 20 female dervishes whirl with men. The women who come out to whirl in The Galata Sufi Center (Mevlevihane) say that everybody is equal in front of God - against the mentality that tries to keep women out of the social life.
They show their views by participating in social and cultural life in addition to the Whirling Ceremony. Whirling is a way of prayer, a way to reach God; part of the spiritual journey that one goes through every second of his/her life, a guide for one’s search for his/her own divine being, for following Rumi.
The spiritual leader of the Organization to Aid The Galata Sufi Center, Senior Dervish Hasan (Çıkar) paved the way for women to join the ceremonies held in the center. There they call themselves The ‘Kemalist Dewrvishes’ (To emphasize the secular and non-sexist principals of M. Kemal Atatürk). Dervish Hasan (or ‘Grandpa’ as senior dervishes called in Turkish) says there are no classes in front of God and adds “ All men/women are equal for God. Men and women complete each other like two halves of an apple”.
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