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Whirling Dervishes

There is a form of meditation where the practitioners meditate by whirling themselves round and round for hours. They call themselves “dervishes” and they are part of a group of Muslims who practises this special dance.

The dervishes came from Persia, now called Iran. They practise Islam by vowing humility and to do good. To get close to God, they bring themselves into a text trance. Some people listen to music or chant and go into a trance, but the dervishes use dance. They spin on one foot, while being mindful of holy things.

The dervishes are people who devote their lives seeking spiritual knowledge. They forsake material things and live a life of poverty. They are allowed to beg for food but only to feed others.


Rumi, a famous dervish, wrote:
Water that’s poured inside will sink the boat
While water underneath keeps it afloat
Driving wealth from his heart to keep it pure
King Solomon preferred the title ‘Poor’:
That sealed jar in the stormy sea out there
Floats on the waves because it’s full of air
When you have the air of dervishood inside
You’ll float above the world and there abide…


In their quest to seek spiritual truths, dervishes perform their unique whirling dance to go into a trance. They first started using the whirling dance about a thousand years ago. Today, male or female dervishes wear a tall camel hair hat and a wide white skirt. The hat and skirt represent the death of their ego. They wear a black coat over their costume before entering the prayer hall.

As they enter, they remove their black jacket to reveal their white clothing which represents purity and spiritual rebirth. Then they fold their arms and bow.

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meditation (n) a state of deep concentration.
trance (n) – a state where a person is half aware of his surroundings; daze.
spiritual (adj) – relating to religion.
forsake (v) – to leave someone; abandon; walk out on.

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