Monday, December 25, 2006

A Turkish Holiday

December 25, 2006
Christmas greetings to everyone! We are just days back from a thrilling trip to Turkey to attend the yearly celebration in honor of the great poet, Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi. The coming year marks the 800th year of the passing of this sage, and it was a special time in Konya, where each year on December 17th the sacred Sema is performed. This event is most well known as the ritual of the Whirling Dervishes. We had perfect seats to see this remarkable performance, where Dervishes dance to unite with God.

We were guests of INTEKNO CEO,Halil Kulluk and his warm family. We experienced hospitality that was rich in kindness and attention to detail. We spent time being welcomed into his family home and as his guest in Konya. On December 16th in Konya I took part in a wonderful symposium entitled: "Love, Science and Life" Conference. This symposium was organized as a joint venture with Selcuk University and the Intekno Group and took place at the luxurious Rixos Hotel in Konya.

Earlier that day we visited the shrine of Mevlana and paid respects at his tomb. I was moved by the depth of devotion exhibited by the crowds visiting the tomb. Several came over to me, took me by the hand and looked into my eyes with a warm welcome. One woman said to me: "I am from Iran; where are you from?" It was as if the love which the poet Rumi celebrates was everywhere, and was infusing the hearts of all of us. At the Symposium we were honored by remarks given by Esin Celebi Bayru, the 22nd generation descendant of Mevlana. The President of Selcuk University, Dr. Suleyman Okudan gave the welcoming remarks, and a paper on Rumi's relationship to other religions was given by Prof. Dr. Emine Yeniterzi, a renowned author and Rumi scholar. We were all entertained by a lively concert of dervish music by the Hosgoru Sazendeleri ensemble. Our host, Halil Kulluk gave an inspiring slide show entitled "Love, Innovation and Entrepreneurship under the Enlightenment of Rumi."

Joining our friends in Istanbul and journeying with them to Konya for this great event was a memorable experience. On the return to Istanbul we were feted by an evening of music in the concert hall of Bosphorus University. A standing ovation was well deserved. What thrilling music it was . . . a mix of ancient and modern themes, haunting and enlivening. Istanbul is a city of great energy and life and we were fortunate indeed to take part in this great celebration of Rumi.