AP: WORLD FAMOUS WHIRLING DERVISHES

The centuries-old tradition of the mystical Islamic poet Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi has found a new form in an Istanbul-based brotherhood.
The Contemporary Lovers of Mevlana has opened its doors to foreigners, women, and has modernised the rituals of the world famous whirling dervishes.
Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi, who founded the Mevlevi order of the Sufism mystical form of Islam, preached tolerance and called upon all, including “heathen, idolatrous or fire worshipper,” to join him.
Hasan Dede, the spiritual leader of the Contemporary Lovers of Mevlana, has introduced numerous changes to the dervish tradition.
His group was the first to open to women, who swirl in colorful outfits unlike the men who wear white.
Red is the color of love.
Dressed in a bright red outfit, Tuesday Frindt, a 27-year-old American, swirls around the octagonal Dervish prayer hall, her right hand open to God and the sky, her left one to the earth.
Frindt is one of three foreign women whirling dervishes, a member of an Istanbul-based brotherhood that aims to modernize the mystical branch of Islam established by 13th century philosopher and poet Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi.
The members of the group are not obliged to follow specific restrictions, like no drinking alcohol or fasting.
They follow certain rituals when addressing Hasan Dede, or Hasan Sheik, such as kissing his hand before addressing him.
On December 17th every year, all dervishes celebrate the death of Mevlana, which is called the “Night of the Union.”
Mevlana believed that death was a moment of celebration rather than mourning because it brought a person’s union with God.

The Associated Press

02/01/2001

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