By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
On Friday, Feb. 6, the Dialogue Institute of Oklahoma City will present a live performance of the Whirling Dervishes of Rumi Turkish Sufi Music Ensemble. The event will take place at 7:30 p.m. at the Oklahoma City Community College Visual and Performing Arts Center, 7777 S. May Ave.
The Whirling Dervish is a spiritual celebration of existence, performed by members of the Mawlawi Order, a branch of the Sufi Order, which was founded in the 13th century in the Turkish city of Konya.
Sufism emphasizes universal love, peace, and acceptance of various spiritual paths. Their dance is a traditional form of Sufi worship; a continuous twirling with one hand pointed upward reaching for the divine and the other hand pointed toward the ground.
“The characteristic of this seven-centuries-old ritual is that it unites the three fundamental components of human nature: the mind (as knowledge and thought), the heart (through the expression of feelings, poetry and music) and the body (by activating life, by the turning),” said Ersin Demirci, Executive Director of the Dialogue Institute of Oklahoma City.
“These three elements are thoroughly joined both in theory and in practice as perhaps in no other ritual or system of thought.”
Demirci says the universal values of love and service that are shared by Sufism, are relevant to the social and political realities of today.
“This ritual, which is only performed by the Order of the Whirling Dervishes, has come to symbolize these values in the hearts and minds of millions throughout the world,” he said.
“We don’t get to see the Whirling Dervishes in the U.S. often, especially in Oklahoma,” Dermirci said. “The ritual is very popular among people of different faiths and seats are often sold out in advance. Many people travel all the way to Turkey just to witness this amazing performance.”
Georgetown University Professor Ori Z. Soltes, and Professor Dann May, Director of the Oklahoma City Vivian Wimberly Center for Ethics and Servant Leadership will accompany the Whirling Dervishes.
“In a time when many view Islamic traditions with some suspicion, fear, and wonder if Islam is a violent religion, this performance will dispel such views,” May said. “This event is a celebration of love and mystical reunion with God that most if not all religious and spiritual people may appreciate.
“For Rumi, any instance of love, whether self love, love of nature, love of friends and lovers and spouses, love of soul and spirit, all point to God.”
There will be door prizes and one audience member will get a chance to win a trip to Turkey. Guests can also observe the traditional art of Water Marbling performed during the reception.
Demirci said, “I invite fellow Oklahomans to witness a fascinating performance dating back to the followers of Rumi, a Sufi mystic and poet who lived in the 13th century.”
Tickets start at $20 and can be purchased at tickets.occc.edu or 405-682-7579.
The Oklahoma City branch of the Dialogue Institute works to promote mutual understanding, respect and cooperation among people of diverse faiths and cultures in the central Oklahoma area.
“It is our hope that in focusing on the shared values of humanity rather than our differences, we can help to foster a deeper understanding and empathic acceptance,” Demirci said.
The institute will host several events in 2015. Two luncheon forums will be held at the OKC Dialogue Institute located at 4444 N. Classen Blvd. The first will feature Langston University President Kent Smith on Jan. 20 and on Feb. 11 the luncheon will feature Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce CEO Roy Williams.
A lecture titled “Democracy in crisis: Corruption, Media and Power in Turkey,” will take place on Feb. 29 at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, featuring Turkish journalist Sevgi Akarcesme.
The annual Art for Dialogue Contest, which provides students with the opportunity to think broadly about world issues, is now underway. The contest’s submission deadline is Jan. 30. For more information, visit artfordialogue.org.
The Institute’s Annual Friendship Dinner and Awards Ceremony is scheduled for April 7.
For more information, call 405-702-0222, or visit dialogueok.org or thewhirlingdervishes.org.