Thanks in part to the Turkish Student Association, UT will host a unique and exciting event — the Whirling Dervishes will visit Knoxville on Thursday night. This captivating display of dance and music gives a glimpse into some of the Turkish customs, beliefs, history and culture.
The Whirling Dervishes, from Konya, Turkey, will be performing their traditional Mevlevi Order Sufi ritual. The Mevlevi Order was founded on the beliefs of Mevlana Jalaladdeen Rumi.
“Rumi is one of the great spiritual masters and poetic geniuses of mankind. His life and works show us that it is not faith, belief and religion which cause hatred, conflict and violence but the sins of hatred and greed and other symptoms of the unrestrained ego. He showed us how the true practice of religion, the purification of the heart, is the remedy for these,” explains Mithat Kisacikoglu, treasurer of the Turkish Student Association.
Rumi is a world-famous philosopher and poet whose works have been extremely popular in western civilizations, including America.
According to the Knoxville Turkish Culture Center’s press release, “His works have been performed by celebrities such as Deepak Chopra, Goldie Hawn and Martin Sheen, and the documentary titled ‘The Poet of the Heart’ featuring the works of Rumi was aired on PBS.”
His tomb and the spiritual center surrounding it are visited by thousands of admirers from around the world every year. The popularity of Rumi and The Whirling Dervishes has been growing in recent years. Because of this, they have begun performing worldwide, including some U.S. cities. In 2007, The Whirling Dervishes performed in Atlanta, with more than 2,000 attendees. This year, the event is very unique in that it will only be performed in six cities in the United States.
“I feel great and proud that the Turkish Student Association jointly with Knoxville Turkish Cultural Center is bringing a lifetime event to Knoxville,” Kisacikoglu said.
UT is very lucky to be able to have the group come to visit. Mahmut Karakaya, graduate in computer engineering, said that had it not been for some unusual circumstances, Tennessee wouldn’t have had the opportunity to see the group.
“Kennesaw State University in (Atlanta) Georgia announced that 2009 is the Year of Turkey,” Karakaya said, in reference to the school’s “Year of Country” Study Program. In coordination with this program, the Istanbul Center in Atlanta was able to bring the Whirling Dervishes to Georgia. Then through the Istanbul Center, UT was able to bring this professional group to Knoxville.
“Without the help from the Istanbul Center it would not be possible to bring them to Knoxville,” Karakaya said.
Not only is this an interesting event, it is also an excellent opportunity for the students of UT to expose themselves to other cultures.
“There is a saying that one is the enemy of what he doesn’t know,” Kisacikoglu said. “The reason we have many fights, conflicts and bias toward other people is that people don’t know much about others’ cultures, religions and beliefs. The best way to overcome all of those problems and create peace in the world is the awareness of others. I’m sure this event will spread cultural diversity at UT, and I think this is important.”
The Whirling Dervishes of Rumi will be performed on Thursday at the Alumni Memorial Building at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available at www.knoxvilletickets.com and at the UT Central Ticket Office. Tickets will cost $20 to $30, but there is a $10 discount for students.
Group to bring Turkish culture to UT through music, dance
Published: Wed Feb 11, 2009