Traditional Sema ceremony performance was held in KL on Saturday to commemorate Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi’s 750th anniversary.

Beginning as a form of meditation from the great poet Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi, the ceremony is characterised by a Sufi ritual of whirling and a form of “dikhr” (remembrance of God), which aims to immerse its performers in a transcendental experience of spiritual devotion.

The practice was proclaimed by the United Nations cultural body Unesco as a masterpiece of “the oral and intangible heritage of humanity” in 2005.

Witnessing this time-honoured ceremony usually requires a flight to Turkey. This month, however, Malaysians were given the golden opportunity to watch a Sema ceremony performance on local shores.

On Saturday, a celebrated team of dancers from Turkey’s Konya Metropolitan Municipality – the birthplace of the whirling dervish tradition – skillfully performed their ancient art to an appreciative audience at Panggung Sari in Istana Budaya, Kuala Lumpur here.

This special performance of “The Whirling Dervishes of Rumi”, which was held to commemorate Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi’s 750th anniversary, was centred around the poet’s teachings of love, tolerance, and spiritual enlightenment.

This event, which was free to the public, was made possible thanks to the embassy of the republic of Turkey in Kuala Lumpur; the ministry of tourism, arts and culture; and the Kuala Lumpur Yunus Emre Institute.

Also appearing on stage was world-renowned Turkish artist Garip Ay, who delivered an elegant ebru art performance.

Ebru, often referred to as “paper marbling”, is an ancient Turkish art form dating to at least the 15th century, where an artist creates colourful patterns on water, and then transfers them to paper.

Each piece is considered a unique masterpiece, reflecting the artist’s creativity and the rich cultural heritage of Turkey. Garip won over the audience with the spellbinding mastery of his art.

Present at the event was Turkish ambassador to Malaysia Emir Salim Yuksel, who thanked the many people and organisations who helped make the performance happen.


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