While in South Korea we’ve been reminded of one of the best parts of traveling… festivals. One of the best parts of Korea is the ubiquitous nature of festivals. We used to ride out every weekend on our motorcycle, when we lived here, and we would always find some festival going on. Whether is was the Andong Mask Festival or the Mokpo Sea Parting Festival there was no end to the excitement.
This brought up and interesting point for Tawny and I, we love the constant celebration of life here in Korea. Something we want to take back with us to WA. Whether it is our annual Christoberfest ritual or archery tournaments we always try to find something to celebrate. One thing in particular that we would love to see is the Mevlana Festival in Turkey. We’ve been through the Middle East before, but Turkey has been seductively whispering our name for some time now. Of all the places we could visit Turkey is currently our first choice for the region. Especially after everything we saw moving south through Croatia.
The Run Down
The Mevlana festival draws hundreds of thousands of visitors annually. It is a dance festival that expresses the ideology of the ancient Sufipoet, Celaleddin Rumi. Also know as Mevlana, which means, “our guide.” His philosophy was that union with God could be achieved through dance. Today his many followers dance the “dance of the dervish.” Hundreds of men dressed in long white robes dance in flowing patterns around the courtyard. They wear black cloaks that symbolize the bondage to earthly means and conical hats that represent their tombstones. As they whirl around the dance floor they open their arms to embrace the power of God and drop their black cloaks. This ten-day festival ends on December 17, commemorating Rumi’s death, or his “wedding night with God.”
What you take away from it all
It’s said that the Mevlana festival is transformative and meditative. Similar to watching the alluring art of Turkish belly dancing.
It’s a chance to drink in another culture in such a fully immersive and extensive way that you can’t help but walk away transformed. Similar to when we spent time in Bahrain and had the great honor of attending the Ashura Festival. It was such an eye opening experience. Ironically, not only for us. Our friend, May, who was from Bahrain had never been to this massive annual festival either and found that she was as in the dark as we were. We found that the Ashura Festival was a massive gathering of peace and compassion. The Mevlana Festival is just such an expression. As the holidays roll around we are all reminded of the peace and love that we should share through the winter months. All of this, plus, it’s a chance to see Istanbul, a metropolis steeped in mystic and romance.
Things to keep in mind
We’ve been planning our Turkish getaway for a while and we would certainly recommend a little advanced planning. The attendance at the Mevlana festival is massive and tickets should be purchased in advance, as well as your hotel. You don’t want to have your plane tickets all lined up and then find out you won’t have any place to stay.
What festival would you love to see?