December 22, 2015

Istanbul, Turkey

Photograph by Ingetje Tadros, Aurora Photos

The Mevlevis, a Sufi sect commonly known as the whirling dervishes, perform a ceremony in Istanbul, Turkey. The ritual is called a "sema," and to practitioners it is a prayer-induced communion with the divine. Sufism was banned in Turkey in 1925, and about 30 years later, the dervishes were granted permission to perform the sema, but only in public. Although the dance still retains spiritual meaning, today it is mostly performed for tourists.

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