September 24, 2008                   

AMHERST, Mass.—The Amazing Whirling Dervishes, a troupe of 16 Mevlevi musicians and whirling dervishes from Turkey, will perform at Buckley Recital Hall in Amherst College’s Arms Music Center at 8 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 27. The group will perform the internationally recognized, centuries-old, sacred whirling ceremony (known as Sema) and a dramatic reading—with musical accompaniment—of the poetry of Jalaladdun Rumi,  Islam’s great 13th-century mystical poet. The free event is being sponsored by the Willis D. Wood Fund and Amherst’s Department of Religion.

According to the Amazing Whirling Dervishes, the Sema ritual began with Rumi and was influenced by Turkish customs and culture. The poetry, Sema music and whirling dance uniquely express the deep love between human being and divine, between lover and Beloved. It is communicated through the words spoken by Rumi and the spiritual practice of whirling that he inspired. The ceremony itself, officially designated by UNESCO as “one of the world’s great cultural and spiritual heritages,” represents the human being’s spiritual journey, an ascent by means of intelligence and love to Perfection (Kemal).

The Mevlevi Sufis make up one of many groups within the vast Sufi tradition of Islam. A Sufi’s way of life is to love and serve God, to desert the ego and carnal self, and to perfect itself so that it can reach God. The universal values of love and service shared by all Sufis are very much relevant to many of the social and political realities of today, and the Mevlevi whirling ritual, which is performed authentically according to Rumi’s teachings by the Mevlevi, has come to symbolize these values in the hearts and minds of millions throughout the world.

Because of the anticipated crowd, advance reservations a required for this event. Tickets can by obtained by contacting Diane Dix at 413-542-2181 or All tickets will be held for pick-up at the door and may be claimed after 6:30 p.m. on the evening of the performance. Tickets not picked up by 7:45 p.m. may be released.