One of the interesting side-trips we took in Cairo was to a "show" featuring
While we all packed into the small hall at the
sitting on folding chairs, the group played music and drums. It's an
odd-sounding music to western ears. Then, the dervishes -- sufi mystics
to spin. And spin. And spin. Forty-five minutes. I was really glad that I hadn't eaten first, it made me nauseous to watch!
Whilrling is actually a form of meditation, which is supposed to empty
of all thought and bring the whirler closer to an understanding of god.
are many rituals associated with the act, but it was explained to us as
intense, personal expression of faith.
Most of the people performing at
tourist shows are just that -- performers, but the original of the
dance is found in the Sufi religion. It was begun by a Sufi mystic
named Rumi in
the 13th century.Persian poet Jalal al-Din Muhammad Rumi devised the
The dance is called the Sema and begins with the Dervish extending
, the right palm up and the left palm down
the power of the heavens enters into the upward extended right palm
passes through the body and leaves the lower left palm to enter into
the Earth. The dervish whirls counterclockwise around their stationary
foot -- the left foot should never leave the ground.
represents the revolution of the planets around the sun.
When the dancer has reached emptiness or finally succumbs to the
they fall to the earth and lay face-down, pressed to the ground.
The performers add heavy, colorful skirts to the spinning, which they
around in patterns.