Sama is a ceremony linked to Islamic mysticism (known as Sufism) animated by songs, music and dances. The purpose is to approach Allah lovingly. The ritual is famous in the world especially for its particular dances in which men dressed with long dresses creating beautiful choreographies. These skilled dancers are known as “rotary dervishes”. The dervish is a disciple of one of the many Sufi confraternities that faces a path of material detachment living in poverty (in fact in Arabic darwīsh means“poor”).
In Arabic samā means “listening” and originally indicated the religious practice of listening to the Holy Koran. The rotating dancer with his movements metaphorically enters a mystical phase of research and understanding in which he abandons himself to the ritual. The rich symbolism of dance can be deduced from the clothes used: a long white tunic in homage to death, a hat reminiscent of a gravestone and a black cloak as a sepulchral metaphor.
Sama is practiced only by men and as Islam in general knows various forms. In general it is a multi-stage ceremony (usually seven) that requires a deep inner concentration by the dancer before starting. The state of conscious ecstasy reached by the dervish puts him in authentic communion with Allah allowing him to have a unique spiritual perception of life, death and reality that surrounds him. The ceremony usually ends with a moment of prayer and reading of Koranic verses.
This famous dance of the rotating dervishes is typical of the Sufi confraternity of the mevlevi, founded by Jalal ad-din rumi, Persian poet and theologian lived in the thirteenth century A.D. The dance is mainly practiced in Turkey, and normally is not shown to the public in its complete form.