A top official at the International Mevlana Foundation, a group devoted to spreading the teachings of Mevlana Rumi, a 13th-century poet, mystic, and scholar who lived most of his life in Türkiye, said their programs work to convey his messages to people around the world.
Esin Celebi Bayru, a 22nd generation descendant of Mevlana Jalaluddin al-Rumi, better known in the West as Rumi, and vice head of the International Mevlana Foundation, told Anadolu that last year they started preparations to organize events both at home and abroad for the 750th passing anniversary of one of the greatest mystics in the Turkish and Islamic world.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan declared 2023 the "Year of Mevlana," she said, adding: "We had planned to organize whirling dervish ceremonies in Mevlevi lodges, panels, symposiums at universities, and events such as cinema and theater both domestically and abroad."
"Unfortunately, due to the earthquake that saddened all of us, these projects were shelved. We went to places where we were previously invited," she said, referring to the Feb. 6 quakes in southern Türkiye that took over 50,000 lives.
Celebi said she went to the Netherlands, the US, and Australia to hold seminars about Rumi's teachings.
On their visit to the Protestant Theological University in the Netherlands upon invitation, Celebi said: "They were doing a study for the first time about a Muslim elder, and they invited me as a speaker." At the university, she explained Mevlana Rumi's philosophy of Mevlevism and the famous dance of the whirling dervishes. Also in the Netherlands, they held a program at the Yunus Emre Institute, the foundation spreading Turkish culture and language abroad.
She added: "In the US, during a workshop, I spoke about topics related to Mevlana Rumi for more than two hours every evening. It was a program that lasted for about two weeks. In July, we were in Australia for three weeks."
Celebi said they got significant attention in Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane in Australia, where they organized 11 whirling dervish programs in three cities.
Stating that she also talked about Mevlana Rumi and Mevlevism in various events domestically, Celebi recalled being moved by a conversation she had with visually impaired individuals.
In addition to the programs, Celebi highlighted that she explained Rumi's teachings to visitors from China, Japan, and many other parts of the world.
She said: "Mevlana Rumi needs no advertisement. Mevlana Rumi is spreading the seeds of unity in the whole world. It is our duty to go and water those seeds, and share that knowledge with them. To share it here with those who come and there with those who cannot come."