People usually know something about whirling dervishes – they have seen some entertainment inspired by this order in Turkey or Egypt restaurants, Middle Eastern countries etc, but they are way more then that. Before I was planning to visit Turkish town of Konya in Central Anatolian region (on my way to Cappadocia), the only thing I “knew” about them was that there is an “ancient weird dressing” order, “somewhere” in the world, “whose followers get in some kind of trans” while spinning around. Could not even imagine what an astonishing philosophy lies beneath this seemingly “tourist attraction”! (Read more about it in the next follow up.)

While I was in Egypt years before going to Cappadocia, I have attended a show allegedly inspired by One Thousand and One Nights’ tales (weird mixture for tourists!). Besides belly dancers, they have arranged a whirling-man show they said was a dervish. He was spinning in wide colorful robe that was expanding like a balloon.


Courtyard of the Rumi Museum

Another time, couple of years after visiting Konya, there was a “special show-dinner” in one of Damascus’ restaurants, where we (tourists) were entertained by a whirling dervish dance. But fortunately, I knew who dervishes were by then and was acquainted with the fact that it’s not their “purpose” to whirl for tips. Still, most tourists were not even curious.

Anyway, for those of you who might stumble across the so called dervishes’ “tourist shows” some day, here is a hint. Whirling dervishes are members of sufi Muslim order, followers of great scholar Mevlana or Rumi who has started the order in the 12th century. The Mevlana Museum with the Mausoleum is located – you’ve guessed it – in the town of Konya!

Don’t expect to see them whirling there at the Museum. Ask if there is a way to have a glimpse into their prayer schedule somewhere in Konya perhaps. I was fortunate enough to see the group of real Turkish dervishes who visited Serbia few years back and performed a part of their prayer routine in Belgrade’s theater. And what a performance that was!


The full Cappadocia SERIES


23 comments on “Cappadocia: WHO ARE WHIRLING DERVISHES (3)

  1. I saw the whirling dervishes at a train station performance in Istanbul. I was not aware that they performed their ritual in other countries. This was a nice snapshot of where you may encounter the dervishes. You are so correct in that there is so much more to the ritual than just the whirling.

    1. That’s the thing – there are a lot of entertainers (not dervishes themselves), who whirl for tourists in those shows, hotels, clubs etc. Even at the train station, as you’ve mentioned. Thanks! 🙂

  2. I love seeing others spiritual practices. I would love to see Dervishes perform their ritual in person. Maybe one day I will make it to Konya and see them!

  3. I have never heard about whirling dervish before but also probably because I have never been in turkey. I haven’t seen any in Egypt tho when I was there! Hopefully I can visit turkey soon and see this awesome show!

  4. Thank you for clearing this up for me! I have always heard the expression ´Whirling Dervish’ but I didn´t realize that it was an actually thing, and hence any of the other things that I have learned in this post. Thank you for the engaging, educational read!

  5. I have never heard of this particular experience. But, I am always fascinated to learn about cultural dance customs in all areas of the world. It is quite interesting to see how tourism impacts the practice!

  6. I’ve seen videos of these but never knew what they were called! I didn’t actually know they are members of the Sufi Muslim order. This is such an informative post – I was under the impression that it was part of their culture so I’m glad that you’ve shed some light on them!

  7. Sad thing is that Mevlama and dervishes turn into a blind tourist entertainment. Sufism has not been mentioned properly even by the promoters of Konya. I keep suggesting people to read some books on sufism to understand why those dervishes whirl around.

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