A total of 300 semazens (whirling dervishes) from Mevlevi lodges around Turkey gathered to stage a monumental sema show marking the 800th anniversary of the birth of Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi at the Konya City Stadium on Sunday night as part of year-round festivities for 2007 Year of Mevlana, as declared by UNESCO.
An "artificial cloud" system developed by Turkish engineers was used for the first time in a show and with the help of lasers brought from Belgium, a symbolic ascending of semazens to the heavens was staged. In addition to the artificial cloud, which was created using 10,000 smoke bombs, about 200,000 pyrotechnic materials and fireworks were used to put on a light show.
The spectacular show used a monumental stage management system consisting of 33 gigantic screens and covering a surface area of 850 square meters.
In a speech he delivered at the ceremony, Minister Günay said that the world was in need of the tolerance and love for humanity championed by Mevlana. Recalling that festivities in commemoration of Mevlana were being held all around the world in line with UNESCO's decision, Günay said: "Tonight, we are here to celebrate the 800th birthday of a great man who is a guiding light for the whole of humanity. "Tonight, we will see the most magnificent of all shows in this beautiful Konya -- where he lived, matured, got old and was united with his Beloved. It is a great happiness for a man, a mortal being, to be commemorated with enthusiasm, love and respect all around the world 800 years after his birth.
At the center of this glaring focus of interest lies a life dedicated to love, a struggle for learning and teaching, and tolerance needed deliriously by mankind. His immense success, admired by scholars of his time and all times, was based on love -- unlimited, boundless, irresistible and indefinable love for understanding the Creator and His creatures. Love brings eternity and lasts for eternity."
Günay, noting that Mevlana's age-old philosophy now serves mankind as a recipe for solving its problems in the 21st century, said: "Even these ceremonies for commemoration and celebration show that we are in urgent need for the love and tolerance embodied by Mevlana. We need him in our region, in the Middle East, in our neighborhood and inside ourselves."