Recently dervishes have been whirling in the nave of a very well-known Viennese church. The parish priest saw it as an expression of hope and unity.
On Wednesday evening, Muslims were dancing in the Votive Church on the Vienna ring road. The Turkish Embassy publicised the event in a press release.
The spectacle is called the Mevlevi Sema ceremony.
The occasion was the 800th Birthday of the Persian-Islamic mystic Mevlana Celâleddin-i Rûmi († 1273). Rûmi is the founder of the Moorish Dervish Order.
Dervishes seek through asceticism, meditation and ritual dances to gain a pure soul.
The Vienna City Dean, the Right Revd Martin Rupprecht was enthusiastic about the event. The priest is committed to inter-religious dialogue. He also has studied for a year in Turkey.
The dancers were members of the Dervish Order especially invited from Turkey. Around 300 guests followed the presentation in the church.
The Turkish Ambassador to Vienna, Selim Yenel, gave the welcoming speech. He called the event "very special". He particularly praised "this environment".
Dervish founder, Rumi always preached tolerance of others. The word intolerance was not part of his vocabulary - according to the ambassador.
The symbolism of the dance.
The Dervishes dance in circular movements, that can last up to 45 minutes, in a trance. Each ceremony is led by a sheik.
At the beginning, the dervishes wear a red coat, which symbolizes "the centre of the earth".
They wear a red hat, like a tombstone and black capes, which are also connected to the memory of a grave.
During the prayer dance, the garments of the dervishes rise up.
They rotate in a circle, with the top right hand stretched up to receive the blessing of God.
The left points down to distribute the blessing received to the world.
Extraordinary clothes and ritual dancing are not unknown in this Church.
The Parish Priest with a new mini-stealth priestess followed by dancers during the Long Night of the Churches.