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Dervish from mother to daughter

In a building in the Silivrikapi neighbourhood on the European side of Istanbul, three women are turning and whirling following the incessant
drums rhythms. They close their eyes. It is hard to imagine under their hat and their ceremonial outfit what is the link which united them. Banu (45 years old) is dancing with her daughters, Zeynep (25 ) and Damla (16) who is the youngest devotee in the « Mevlana », the derviche house. Several times a week, they practice together the « sema » which is the dervish dance.

Banu started four years ago, soon followed by her daughters. They come at least two times a week to the Silivrikapi Mevlana, the only one
which accepts women. « I don’t speak so much outside about what I do as a dervish to my classmates. We don’t have much in common. »,
says Damla smiling, she has also deleted her Snapchat and Facebook account.

The Silivrikapi Mevlana is the only one where women are accepted. « We think that there is no differences between women and men », says
Hassan Dede, the community spiritual master. He also got kicked out from one of the most famous Dervich institution in Turkey. He got
criticised because he wanted to let men and women dance together. « It is not my understanding of Islam », as he just contented to add, even if he has settled down in one of the most conservative area of the city.

We followed Damla and her family in the mystical world of the dervishes, between family intimacy and transe where they allowed us to observe a uncommon perpective of Turkey through their eyes and a practice that has become one of the predominant symbol’s of the country.

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