Recognised by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity, a Whirling Dervish ceremony, or sema, really is a “must see” for visitors to Turkey. Its origins date back to the 13th century when the Mevlevi order was founded, and over successive centuries has come to symbolise a spiritual journey in which the cloaked dervishes abandon their egos in search of “truth”.
Experience a traditional Whirling Dervish sema ceremony
Get a unique insight into the Mevlevi religious order
Enjoy complimentary soft drinks
Return hotel transfers to the Hodjapasha Dance Theatre
The Hodjapasha Dance Theatre is set within a lovingly restored Ottoman hammam, or Turkish bathhouse, and they have created a beautiful atmosphere with mystical light to host their one-hour long sema ceremonies, offering visitors a glimpse into this ancient ritual. The sema begins with a short concert of Sufi classical music before the Mevlevi Dervishes enter in their black cloaks. Prayers are chanted by the hafız, and the dervishes remove their cloaks, beginning to whirl in what is known as the Four Salams, spinning counter clockwise and slowly gaining momentum. The first salam recognises God and the second his unity, while the third recognises the sheer ecstasy that comes with surrendering to God and the fourth symbolises peace.
The final whirl is accompanied by a Taksim rhythm played on a reed flute, followed by a reading from the Qu’ran and a final prayer before the dervishes slowly retreat and the sema ceremony ends.
The practice of Whirling Dervishes was banned in 1925 when Turkey became a republic, but they continued this religious ceremony underground. After restrictions were removed in 1950, the ritual was recognised as an important part of Turkish heritage, and there was a renewed interest, particularly from visiting tourists.
Although the Hodjapasha Whirling Dervish performance doesn’t observe the full ritual (which can be very long), they offer a fascinating insight into the Mevlevi religious order and the opportunity for visitors to learn a little more about this rich element of Turkey’s culture. Our Hodjapasha Whirling Dervish experience includes complimentary soft drinks and return hotel transfers.
What is included
Ticket to Hodjapasha Dance Theatre’s Whirling Dervish show
Return hotel transfers
|January - February|
|March - December|