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Whirling Dervishes from Khartoum

Street at Omdurman. Khartoum (Omdurman). Sudan. Khartoum, the capital of Sudan is divided by Blue and While Nile junction into three parts: Central Khartoum, Bahri a Omdurman. The most of the offices, embassies and airport are located in Central Khartoum. At the north of Khartoum is Bari, mostly industrial city which is not really interesting. The last pat of Khartoum is the most interesting. Omdurman is located at West Nile riverside. The oldest quarter was built in traditional Islamic style.

Whirling dervishes. Hamed-an Nil Mosque, Khartoum (Omdurman). Sudan. Each Friday night, except Ramadan, Dervish people are meeting here in front of the Hamed an-Nil mosque to dance. Whirling Dervishes belongs to the Sufism Islam. Sufism religion is hard to define, it’s sometimes called “Islamic mysticism”. Broadly speaking Sufism is an interpretation of Islamic ideas, with respect to love, tolerance, belief in God and getting knowledge from your own experience. Dervishes were originally in Turkey, but during a time, missioners broadcasted it up far to Africa where Sufism was mixed with traditional religion, and got an exotic flavor.

Whirling dervishes. Hamed-an Nil Mosque, Khartoum (Omdurman). Sudan. Friday night, the small groups of people are gathering in front of the mosque, both Dervish and visitors. Suddenly there is loud, rhythmic music, accompanied by bewitching singing. Dervish procession is coming. In the front there are men with green flags, following by Dervishes. The Extensive man with dreads in the front seems to be organizing the event. They make large circle. It’s a broad variety of people, all different kinds. Young man with dreads, well dressed officer, old men dressed in traditional Islam dress but also a few women. Next to the mosque it’s a band, mostly combination of different kinds of drums. The drums sound in the rhythm and Dervishes at the edge of circle are singing, clapping their hands and waving while the Dervishes in the centre are running around, provoking everybody to even more emotive execution. It’s hard to say how the Dervishes inside circle are selected. They are more like organizing the event.

Whirling dervishes. Hamed-an Nil Mosque, Khartoum (Omdurman). Sudan. Songs are long and hypnotic. In general there are two kinds of songs – slower rhythm where Dervishes can rest a little and very fast songs bringing in an incredible energy. All people are moving in the rhythm, putting out maximum of the energy. The Dervishes inside the circle are singing up to the limits, trying to motivate everybody to even more emotive outputs. You can even feel the energy in the air. During the fast songs, a couple of Dervishes leaving the circle edge and going to dance inside in the fast rhythm, changing up the speed even more up to the limits. They are moving around the axe faster and faster up to the trance. In such atmosphere it’s not so difficult. Some of them are using a wooden stick to have a better stability. Everybody is circling to the end of the energy, and then suddenly there is a slower song.

Whirling dervishes. Hamed-an Nil Mosque, Khartoum (Omdurman). Sudan. The sun is going down, the rhythms are taking turns. As soon as the sun is below the horizon and the dark came, the dancing is coming to its end. Dervishes are calming down, having a short rest and it’s time for a prayer at the mosque. The celebration is finished.



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