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the whirling dervish

Posted by
Ryan (Vancouver, Canada) on 8 May 2010 in Lifestyle & Culture.

After a day spent wandering the city and peeking into mosques, we made our way to the huge performance centre for the whirling dervish sema, which is what their prayer/performance is known as. Getting there early got us seats right in the front row, and though it filled up by the time the show started, 2/3 of the people arrived on tour buses fifteen twenty minutes before the show started. I've never seen a place fill up so quickly. The funny thing is, some of them started leaving half an hour into the show, after the first prayer/dance, and the auditorium was at least a third empty by the time they finished.

The show itself was different again from what we had seen, though fairly similar to the one we had seen in Bursa. There was a song of prayer to begin with, then the dancers bowed to each other in a circle. After they were done, more dancers joined them, almost doubling their numbers to 22. Then they began casting off their dark cloaks and praying, twirling around with one hand up and the other down to connect heaven and earth. There were four different prayers offered, with coloured lighting for each one (that's why this photo is black and white, as the light were a harsh orange, a weird green, and a deep purple, with a normal white only coming on for the final, short prayer). There were a few younger adherents again, including one tiny boy, and one adult wearing a dark green robe while dancing instead of white.

This performance was enjoyable and we had free range to move around to take pictures, but I think my favourite is still the cozy performance in Bursa. Even though both were put on for tourists, that one felt more like a prayer than this one. However, the prayers offered here were just as serious as the ones in Bursa, and the dancers were quite good. We had a good night, as I hope they did.

Canon EOS 350D 1/10 second F/4.0 ISO 800 113 mm (35mm equiv.)

Canon EOS 350D
1/10 second
ISO 800
113 mm (35mm equiv.)