Istanbul commemorates Rumi in special ceremony

The Sufi mystic Mevlana Muhammad Jelaluddin Rumi is commemorated every December in the Central Anatolian province of Konya, where his tomb is located. But Istanbul was also home to a commemoration ceremony for Rumi over the weekend, marking the first time the cultural capital of Turkey hosted the Sufi event that attracts spectators from around the world annually.

The Istanbul event, held two days ahead of the Dec. 17 ceremony in Konya, drew thousands to the Ulker Sports Arena on Saturday, Turkish news agencies reported.

A joint effort between the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the Greater Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, the Istanbul ceremony was held due to strong turnout for ceremonies in Konya, the Anatolia news agency reported Saturday.

The commemorations mark the anniversary of the death of Rumi 739 years ago, on Dec. 17, 1273. In the Istanbul ceremony, famous Turkish stage actor-director Kenan Isik recited selected verses from the “Mesnevi,” Rumi’s world-famous spiritual poems about divine love, to Sufi tunes performed by Yucel Arzen and his orchestra.

The 45-minute recital was followed by a Sufi music concert by Sami Savni Ozer. The ceremony culminated with a sema performance, the world-famous Sufi whirling dervish ritual, conducted by the Marmara Turkish Music Ensemble.

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