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By: Fahmi Zakariah

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Tuesday, 5-Sep-2006 22:44 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Turkey trip part III - Whirling Dervishes

Perhaps I should devote one entry for the whirling dervishes, or tarian sufi. It is a kind of ibadah, as Kudo said that the dervishes perform to get near to God. The whole experience, from the music and zikr, and the whirling motion of different colours was fascinating. I used a low shutter speed in order to capture the whirling motion so the shots were a bit blurry.

Whirling is one of the tools used by Sufis (Islamic mystics) to come closer to Allah, but it's not the only one. Different orders of Sufis apply different practices, including whirling, zikr, and others. The vast majority of whirling dervishes in Turkey trace their spiritual roots to Celaleddin Mevlâna Rumi, who founded the Mevlevi Sufi order in the 13th century. "Mevlâna" means "guide", or "master". "Rumi" means "from the Sultanate of Rum".

The Dervish Clothing
On dervishes' heads are tall, conical felt hats signifying the tombstones of their egos. They wear long, white robes with full skirts which represent the shrouds of their egos. Over those are voluminous black cloaks representing their worldly tombs which they remove at the beginning of the ceremony to symbolize their deliverance from the cares and attachments of this world.

The Semâ (Whirling Ritual)
The semâ begins with a chanted prayer to The Prophet, who represents love, and all prophets before him. Next a kettledrum sounds as a symbol of the Divine order of the Creator, followed by haunting musical improvisation on the ney (reed flute) which symbolizes the Divine Breath which gives life to everything.

The master bows, then leads the dervishes in a circle around the hall. As they pass the master's ceremonial position at the head of the hall, they bow to each other. This portrays the salutation of soul to soul concealed by shapes and bodies.

After three circles, the dervishes drop their black cloaks. One by one, arms folded on their breasts, they approach the master, bow, kiss his hand, receive instructions, then spin out onto the floor. Through whirling, the dervishes relinquish the earthly life to be reborn in mystical union with God. Opening their folded arms, the dervishes hold their right hands palm-up to receive the blessings of heaven. They hold their left hands palm-down to transfer the blessings to earth.

Eventually, the semâ reaches a point where all dervishes are simultaneously whirling. After about 10 minutes, all stop and kneel. Then rising, they begin again. This combination of whirling followed by salute is performed a total of four times. Each of the four repetitions of kneeling is a salute, and they signify:

1. Humanity's birth to the truth of God as Creator and humanity's role as creature.
2. The rapture of man witnessing the splendor of creation.
3. Dissolution into the rapture of love and the sacrifice of mind to love, to complete submission to God.
4. Termination of the spiritual journey, including return to everyday life and subservience to God.

At the conclusion of the whirling, the hafiz reads the Koran, especially the verse from Sura Bakara 2, verse 115: "Unto God belong the East and the West, and wherever you turn, there is God's countenance. He is all-embracing, all-knowing."

The semâ closes with a prayer for the peace of the souls of all Prophets and all believers.

Dervish entering the hall

Monday, 4-Sep-2006 21:29 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Turkey trip part II - Pamukkale

Zigzag path
Pamukkale was our second stop after Istanbul. The journey from Istanbul from Pamukkale by an overnight train supposedly takes about 15 hours. In our case, after a few delayed stops it took around 18 hours . For anyone who wish to plan the same journey, well I offer one advice, if you can afford it, get the cabin with bed. It is much more comfortable plus you don't want to be told off by a Turkish pakcik for making a sound or even playing cards late at night, it is not a pretty sight I guarantee you . From my personal opinion, travelling by train is a good way to enjoy the secenery, mix with the locals and make some friends.

Pamukkale, meaning "cotton castle" in Turkish, is a natural site and attraction in south-western Turkey in the Denizli Province. The ancient city of Hierapolis was built on top of the white "castle" which is in total about 2700 meters long and 160m high. It can be seen from a great distance, eg. when driving down the hills on the opposite side of the valley to the town of Denizli, which is 20 km away. Pamukkale is located in Turkey's Inner Aegean region, in the Maeander River valley, which enjoys a temperate climate over the greater part of the year.

The tectonic movements that took place in the fault depression of the Menderes river basin did not only cause frequent earthquakes, but also gave rise to the emergence of a number of very hot springs, and it is the water from one of these springs, with its large mineral content, chalk in particular, that created Pamukkale. Apart of some radioactive material, the water contains large amounts of hydrogen carbonate and calcium, which leads to the precipitation of calcium carbonate. The effect of this natural phenomenon leaves thick white layers of limestone and travertine cascading down the mountain slope, making the area look like a fortress of cotton or a frozen waterfall.

Pamukkale is a very famous tourist attraction of Turkey, and the tourists travel from the coast of Antalya and the Aegean Sea to this place as it is one of the World Heritage Sites in Turkey, together with Hierapolis. Only few remaining places in the world are somewhat similar, like the Mammoth Hot Springs in the USA.

Pamukkale in late afternoon

A zigzag path

Outerspace effect

Kam, AD and I - sunset

Pamukkale at sunset

Sunday, 3-Sep-2006 21:19 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Turkey trip part I - Istanbul

Sultanahmet Blue Mosque at night
Lokum or Turkish delight
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Well I haven't updated my fotopages for some times (a long time actually).. Have been busy at the moment with final year starting.. I managed to take a one-week trip to Turkey before Uni started.. It is a very beautiful country rich in nature and culture and the warmth of its people. These are some of the pictures taken in Istanbul. (Actually ade banyak lagi, tapi tak larat la nak upload sume )

The view of Modern Istanbul at night

Basilica Cistern or underground cistern

Inside Aya Sofia

Bosphorus Strait

Saturday, 29-Apr-2006 01:54 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Roadtrip extra - jalan-jalan cari makan

1st stop - Jati restaurant Manchester
Strawberries with yegon's burnt choc fondue
"Got milk?" advert gone wrong
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Our side activity after sightseeing

Saturday, 29-Apr-2006 00:21 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Roadtrip part III - Bristol and Bath

The royal crescent
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The last two cities in our roadtrip.. Bristol and Bath are posh places, i didn't see any scallies around here, unlike in Manchester. Some photos are edited into b&w to potray the classic and romantic feelings.. They are romantic cities indeed..


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