‘Mommy, What is Sema?”
“Sema has two meanings; It means “Sky”; but it also has a spiritual meaning in Sufism, darling. In Sufism; it means hearing, listening and dancing with the sound of a pleasant music.
Sema symbolizes the ritual of the Dervishes, who whirl to show their love and gratitude to the Lord. It also represents their liege and their compliance to the greatness of God. The Ritual of Sema, represents both the creation of the universe and the rebirth of mankind in the universe.
“But, why are they supposed to whirl like this?”
“ You see dear…Everything, from atom to molecules to planets or galaxies turns left to right in the universe, in their worship of the Lord. A Semazen (A Whirling Dervish) participates in the natural spinning and integrates himself into the natural motion of the universe.”
“Don’t they get nauseous ? “
“No sweetie, they don’t. They get into trance-like state as they turn and turn. They are extremely well trained to perform this ritual. It is a type of meditation for them. In the dance they become one with all that is in the universe by moving in the same way. The repetition of this movement is mesmerizing to them, allowing them to transcend the everyday and become one with the Divine.“
“Wow!! They all look the same to me, dressed in the same way. Why Mommy? “
“Each dervish has to comply to the tradition of the whirling ritual with their motions and outfits. That’s is why.”
“Why are they all wearing white dresses (Tennure)? “
“It represents the cerement, grave cloths in which the dead body is wrapped, before it is laid in the grave. “
“They are wearing hats (Sikke). What do they symbolize? “
“They represent each buried person’s tombstone. “
“Mommy, I am scared! They all remind me of death! “
“Well, sweetie, it is actually intended to do the opposite! When they first started their rituals, they were wearing a long black cardigan and they took it off. Remember?”
“Yes I do. “
“So, that cardigan represents death. When they take it off, that means they are reborn.The whole dance is one telling the journey of the person who passes through death, is buried but then becomes one with God. But in the instance of the Dervishes, it means passing from the daily world, dying in a sense of leaving the tangible behind to become one with the Lord who is all spirit.”
“Oh, now it makes sense. It has a beautiful meaning then Mommy.”
“Yes, it does”
PS: Special thanks to Mehmet Gunyeli, who provided these pictures from his own work. We will also cover his works in due time.
I would like to share a great video about Turkish Tea prepared by Katharine Branning who is a historian and a Turkish Tea lover, which was shared with me by my lovely cousin Mine Bilgic Ataman who also lives in the United States.
Please take few moments and watch the video. No one can explain Turkish Culture as well as Turkish Tea like Katharine Branning .
Once, I invited one of my best friend from NYC to Istanbul. We were planning to stay in Istanbul for couple days and fly down to Bodrum. I made very meticulous planning to show her around and tried to get most of our stay. But! she discovered the Grand Bazaar, for the first time! From then on, it was almost impossible to see her again. We had to cancel most of our plans, Because she totally fell in love with Kapalicarsi and wanted to spend most of her time in there. Well, I don’t blame her.
Let’s see what you are going to think about this marvelous place.
Today’s post prepared by a long term friend and an avid lover of the Grand Bazaar, Istanbul. EbruArslanAymen.
Ebru is going to share her great shopping spots with us in the Grand Bazaar. She will take us to a little tour in the Kapalicarsi (Grand Bazaar) along with her own amazing snapshots.
Thank you Ebru! I am also looking forward to visit places you recommend.
Grand Bazaar by EbruArslanAymen:
I live in Istanbul however; there is a unique place in the city to visit where I don’t feel like a local at all. I feel like I travel in time and visit different worlds every time I get there…
Whenever I feel like cheering up, my preferred location is to drive towards the Old City, old means like 500-600 years old! Whether I feel the passion to shop like all the women or not, I find myself walking in this marvelous place with eyes wide open and try to figure out what’s new and different. To chat with local shop owners is a delight as well.
My feet take me unconsciously to my friend Murat’s hidden store, which has been there for many years and caries all the colorful hand made fabrics from all around Anatolia.
Issey Miyake, Rifat Ozbek, Missoni are some world famous designers who are regular to this store.
It’s easy to get lost in that painting like colors in this tiny shop. But above all the good fabrics, his friendly chats keep me there at least for two hours.
Then I stop by Fes Cafe, which is another classic of mine in the Grand Bazaar. Try the Fes coffee with liquor in this cozy and hip place for more than ten years there.
Right next to Fes, there is Abdulla for the spa lovers who love to be rejuvenated at home. Here you can find all the traditional “Hamam” materials for your own bathroom back at home. Handmade towels, sponges, olive oil soaps and all the others are waiting for you in Abdulla.
Although you might not need any, still a feast for the eyes, handmade Carpets and Kilims from the silk, wool carpets to modernized patchwork kilims with all sorts of designs and colors.
My favorite address is Ethicon and Dhoku especially with its award winning patchwork kilims.
Who doesn’t like leather? High quality leather shops with clothing as well as bags are all around you. Here are some names for you to explore.
Koc Leather (Leather Goods)
Punto Leather (Leather Goods)
Tiles are the unique arts for Turkey coming from the Ottoman times and here it’s easy to find the best collections…Tulips and pomegranate designs are very typical with the color blue, red and green, all hand made. I couldn’t stop myself choosing bowls for the garden dreaming of the fresh, tasty salads. You may either use them only for decoration purposes or as tableware.
I save the best for the last, the silverware and the jewelry! This is difficult to explain, to experience on your own is the best way.
Sky is the limit.
Amazingly, after all this time there are still lots of untouched places for me in the Grand Bazaar where I haven’t been before.
If you want to travel in time and find yourself in the 1001 night tales, don’t miss the experience.
Lale Gumus (Lale Sterling Silver)
Atam Usta (Antiques)
What was I thinking?
Who am I to write about such an intriguing yet complicated subject, such as Sufism and the Whirling Dervishes?
After I started to write a blog, I figured out that writing is not merely about writing your ideas or thoughts. What makes the difference in writing is about writing your feelings towards the subject. But, It is not that easy!
I appreciate writers/authors even more now as they are doing one of the most difficult jobs in the world.
In a nutshell, what I am trying to say is, I promised to write about the Whirling Dervishes soon; but as I got deeper into the subject, I realized that I needed to be better informed. So I am still researching and will present to you all that I have learned, in a manner that you will both deserve and enjoy. Basically, I want to share my spiritual feelings towards the Whirling Dervishes.
Please watch the video below and you will be able to understand what I mean:
This outstanding performer, despite of his very hip look, has chosen to play Sufi music, which is very unusual for Turkish youth, who would rather be engaged with popular contemporary music. Mercan Dede performs in all over the world with an exceptional talent.
His music is full of peace, soothing yet vibrant and yet it has a way of seeping into your being. It is both meditative, contemplative and mind expanding, somehow connecting one to one’s soul.
Please click on the links below and enjoy the great music and videos:
“How was Istanbul?”
“It was great, we loved it.”
“Where have you been? What have you seen?”
“Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque and Grand Bazaar.”
“That is awesome. What else?”
“That is it!! Because we were there only for few days”
“Because, we thought it would be enough.”
Ok, I am not going to mention these places, at least not right now. Not that they are not worth seeing, but Istanbul is not only made up of these places.
Istanbul is the only city in the world that is established on two continents, Europe and Asia. Bosphorus Strait divides two continents from each other. The strait is right between two seas, the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara. Two giant suspension bridges connect the two continents.
First one is named, the Bosphorus Bridge also called First Bosphorus Bridge.
Second one is named Fatih Sultan…
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