The Dance of the Whirling Dervishes (Mevlevihane)
For visitors to Turkey, a glimpse of the Whirling Dervishes or "Mevlevihane" is a must for any sightseeing list. The Dervishes, whose name means ”those who have chosen the road of suffering,” begin each dance by greeting their master then removing a black coat, a symbol of the earthly world, to reveal a white dress that symbolizes purity or "safa." They start to whirl like the planets around the Sun, raising their right hands to the heavens and pointing their left hands to the earthly world.
The best place to witness the Whirling Dervishes is in the city of Konya, at the tomb of Sufi poet Celalatin Rumi who is said to have invented whirling when he first spun himself into trance there in the 13th century. In Istanbul, the Galata Mevlevihanesi is the most famous Mevlevi Whirling Dervish hall. Performances are held there every Sunday evening.