On a recent trip to Istanbul, I had the good fortune to see a whirling dervish ceremony at the Galata Mevlevihanesi, a Mevlevi whirling dervish hall located in Beyoglu, Istanbul. I knew in advance that performances are only held on Sunday and a limited number of tickets are sold at the door, so I made sure I was there at 10am when tickets went on sale to ensure I didn’t miss out. I managed to score a ticket to the 3pm performance, so spent the 5 hours until the show started shooting in the back streets, and eating some good local food. I got back to the Galata Mevlevihanesi just before 3pm, just in time to snag a seat with a good view of the hall.
The ceremony is very formal and starts with the dervishes greeting one another while moving around the hall in a circle. The senior dervish receives greetings from the juniors first, and then the junior dervishes greet each other.
The dervishes then remove their black cloaks and begin the main part of the ceremony – whirling to religious music and chanting. It is quite a sight to see them all whirling in unison and the looks on their faces is one of bliss and complete devotion.
The ceremony last about one hour in total and was one of the highlights of my trip to Istanbul. I highly recommend seeing this ceremony if you get a chance.
Gear: Leica M7 + Voigtlander Nokton 35mm F1.2 + Fuji Neopan 400
Photographer: Jon Mitchell