ISTANBUL, Turkey, November 30, 2006 – More than one million people are
expected to descend on Konya, Turkey, from December 1 – 17 to witness one
of the world’s most anticipated spectacles, the Whirling Dervish Festival.
The annual festival marks the death of MevlÃ¢na Celaleddin Rumi, the poet
and philosopher who founded the Mevlevi Order in the 13th century.
Each year, the commemorative ceremony for MevlÃ¢na Celaleddin Rumi begins
as it has for nearly 800 years, with a traditional reading accompanied by
the mesmerizing sounds of the ney (reed flute). Following the readings from
a poem of praise for MevlÃ¢na, the thrilling dance begins: The barefoot
dervishes remove their flowing black cloaks to reveal white robes, before
taking position to begin their traditional whirling movements. This year’s
performances will take place weekdays at 7:00 p.m. and twice on weekends at
1:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.
The festival is particularly meaningful this year as the United Nations
Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has just
announced that it will commemorate the 800th anniversary of MevlÃ¢na
Celaleddin Rumi’s birth as one of the celebrations of anniversaries with
which UNESCO is associated. For more information, visit www.unesco.org.