The Mevlevi Order or the Mevleviye are a Sufi order founded by the followers of Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Balkhi-Rumi, a 13th century Persian poet, Islamic jurist, and theologian, in Konya (in present-day Turkey). They are also known as the Whirling Dervishes due to their famous practice of whirling as a form of dhikr (remembrance of Allah). Dervish is a common term for an initiate of the Sufi Path.
The Mevleviye, one of the most well known of the Sufi orders, was founded in 1273 by Rumi's followers after his death, particularly by his successor Hüsamettin Çelebi who decided to build a mausoleum for Mevlâna, and then Mevlâna's son, Sultan Veled Celebi (or Çelebi, Chelebi) (the word "Çelebi" means " fully initiated"). He was an accomplished Sufi mystic with great organizing talents. His personal efforts were continued by his successor Ulu Arif Çelebi.
The Mevlevi, or "The Whirling Dervishes", believe in performing their dhikr in the form of a "dance" and music ceremony called the sema.
The Sema represents a mystical journey of man's spiritual ascent through mind and love to "Perfect." Turning towards the truth, the follower grows through love, deserts his ego, finds the truth and arrives at the "Perfect." He then returns from this spiritual journey as a man who has reached maturity and a greater perfection, so as to love and to be of service to the whole of creation.
The sema was practised in the semahane (ritual hall) according to a precisely prescribed symbolic ritual with the dervished whirling in a circle around their sheikh, who is the only one circling around his axis. The dervishes wear a white gown (symbol of death), a wide black cloak (hirka) (symbol of the grave) and a high brown cap (kûlah), symbol of the tombstone.