Cultural Programme by Devotees from Turkey

It is Holy Month of Ramadan and a group of devotees from the Arab world is on a pilgrimage to Prasanthi Nilayam, the Ultimate Seat of the Divine. …And on a pleasant evening, the Universal Mevlei Dance, an Islamic religious rite leading to spiritual bliss stole the limelight on the first day of the two-day scheduled Interfaith Programme by the visiting group from Region 94, in Prasanthi Nilayam.

Reminiscing of the cherished memories of Bhagawan’s sweet physical presence and personal attention to the pilgrims over the past some years, Region 94 of Sri Sathya Sai Organisations – Overseas has come in a group on ‘Sai Pilgrimage 2011′ to the Holy Abode of Prasanthi Nilayam. The group comprised of 260 members from nine allied countries of the region, namely, The UAE, Sultanate of Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Iran.

This evening, on the first day of its scheduled two-day Interfaith Programme, devotees from Turkey, a country with a Muslim majority, offered a special cultural programme in Sai Kulwant Hall.

The programme commenced at 1700 hrs. with a religious procession carrying a crystal replica of the Holy Mosque of Abu Dhabi, capital of the UAE. The procession, styled to religious perfection and beauty, commenced from the Dashavatar gate at the en trace of the Ashram. Inching in towards the dais, the altar of the omnipresent Lord, the processionists carrying the crystal replica moved in slow gait, suffused with devotion and dedication, accompanied by rhythmic beats of music and religious chanting of holy hymns of Islam. Representatives from Turkey and Iran followed by other participating countries moved unto the dais, offering obeisance to Bhagawan. The processionists were clad in regional attire of respective countries and were carrying national flags. As the procession completed its round, a brief introduction on Turkish culture and history and that of Islamic religious significance followed before the group burst into singing holy hymns. After the brief chanting four Mevlevis performing the Whirling Dervishes took the centre-stage, moving in slow, steady gait as is proclaimed in their religion. .

SEMA, Sufi whirling is a physically active meditation of the Sufis, popularly practised by the Sufi Dervishes of the Mevlevi order. The ‘dance’ of the Whirling Dervishes is called Sema and is born out of the inspiration of Mevlana Celaddiin-i Rumi, a 13th century Muslim Saint known throughout the world for his exquisite poems and words of wisdom. Sema represents a mystical journey of man’s spiritual ascent.

For the next twenty minutes, the dervishes, four in number, with typical head-gear, symbolic of ego’s tombstone, with white long skirt, symbolising ego’s shroud, occupied the centre-stage, dancing to rhythmic tunes, completely engrossed in the Divine. Beginning with holding arms crosswise, the dervishes moved spinning, slowly blooming their hands, with the right hand directed towards the sky, signalling their readiness to receive Divine beneficence, while gazing left hands turned towards the Earth. Turning from right to left, pivoting around the heart, they moved in steady, rhythmic circular motion, presenting a visual treat of balancing the body and mind, tuning to spiritual perfection.

The ‘dance’ ended with a prayer for the peace of the souls of all prophets and believers. The entire programme was accompanied by soulful music, assisted by five musicians on various instruments, namely, Kanun, a Zither-like musical instrument with 72 strings, Tambur, an ancient form of lute, Ney, a reed flute played in Melvei music.

The Whirling Dervish was a collective offering, a prayer to Beloved Bhagawan by the Sai Fraternity from the region to bless them, while they revolve in this circular motion, helping them in the spiritual sense with each and every turn. Offering the dance, they prayed to Bhagawan to help them to reach Him, the Ultimate Source, through the whirling movement.

Bhajans followed for the next ten minutes before Mangala Arathi was offered to Bhagawan. Prasadam was distributed to the entire assemblage.