Culinary Culture in the Mevlevi Order
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Culinary Culture in the Mevlevi Order

Everyone, together with the sheikh, loudly chants “Hu” as their breath allows them. Afterwards, everyone sits down crossed legged; talking is permitted unless it is done in separate groups and with noise.  If there is halvah, the gulbang is chanted when it is brought to the sofra. When the meal is finished, all rise from the table with the sheikh after tasting salt and greeting the sofra in the same way as before.

The Somat gulbang is chanted in its short form as:
«Elhamdü lillâh, eşşükrü lillâh; Hak berekâtın vere erenlerin nân ü nimetleri ziyade ola; sâhibül - hayrâtın rûh-ı revanları şâd ü handan, bâkıyleri selâmette ola. Dem-i Hazret-i Mevlânâ, sırr-ı Ateş-bâz-ı Veli, Hû diyelim. Hû. » (Konya, Mevlana Museum, Registration No. 1665).

When someone brings a sacrifice to the convent, the sentences “niyâzı kabûl, murâdı hayr ile hâsıl ola” (may his prayers be accepted and may his wish come true in a good way) are added.

It was reported also by Rüsûhi that the somat gülbâng starting with the words «Mâ süfiyân-ı rahim... » was chanted after meals and was always remembered day and night (Minhâc, p. 12).

In addition, there is another gülbâng for the “bayram somat” (festival meals):
İy zeban kaasır zi add-i cûd-ı lâ tuhsâ-yı tu
Key zebânem şukr kerded der hor-ı âlâ-yı tu
Özr-i taksirât-ı mâ çendan ki taksîrât-ı mâ
Şukr-i ni’metha-yı tu çendan ki ni’methâ-yı tu
(Konya Museum. K. 1661).

Following this anonymous stanza, which can be translated as “Oh Lord, whose mercy is so abundant that no language can describe it! Where to find the language to express my grattitude sufficiently for your mercy? Our apologies from you are equal to our sins, yet our grattitude must equal your mercy”, the somat gulbang is chanted. However, the sentence “Hak erenler hayırlı emsâl-i kesiresiyle müşerref eyliye” (May the men of God be honored by plenty of similar blessed occasions) would be added.

Among the Mevlevis, there is also a sofra made of leather, called an elifi somat. This long and narrow sofra looks like the Arabic letter “elif” (alef) and is rolled up like a scroll when not used. Sometimes this sofra is laid down on the kitchen floor and the brothers are seated along its edges. This sofra is reserved mostly for ready-made food that can be served to everyone, such as snacks and breakfast; it is preferred in group journeys and on some occasions it is laid down as a blessing.
No sea food may enter the Mevlevi kitchen. This can perhaps be explained both by the smell of such foods and also by the fact that they are rich in phosphorous, leading to increased sensual desire.

Muharrem and Aşure

First of all, it must be noted that Mevlâna was never a figure who would be a partisan of a particular side among the Muslims; he would never prefer a group over others or abuse his teaching in favor of a party’s interests.  He did not consider the doctrine of Vahdet-i Vücûd (Unity of Being) as a theoretical and mystic system; but rather recognized its practical and humane nature. In the 6th volume of the Mesnevi, when narrating the Shia’s mourning on the 10th day of the month of Muharrem at the Antiochian gate in Halep, he states that one should weep not for the martyrs of Kerbela but for his own state, his own decrepitude, his ruined soul seeing nothing but this ruined land (Tere. Istanbul 1946, pp. 66-67).
When Mevlevism became systematized, other orders had elegies recited during the month of Muharrem, cooking aşure according to tradition and inviting Mevlevis to the elegy recitation and the preparation of the aşure (called aş). This custom was also passed onto Mevlevis, who felt obliged to follow suit.

“Aş” is cooked also by Mevlevis; sheikhs of Sufi orders are invited. On that day, aşure is eaten at the somat, and the gulbang is chanted when the aşure comes. The souls of Imam Hussein and the “Şühedâ-yı Kerbelâ” (Martyrs of Kerbela) are commemorated during the gulbang. However, there is no different practice during “mukabele” (the whirling prayer), and no elegies are cited. On the other hand, in lodges with an inclination towards Alevism and during the period of Abdulvahid Çelebi, Fuzuli’s “Hadikat-üs–Suadâ” used to be cited for ten nights of Muharrem in the dergâh (convent) in Konya. On the 11th night, this ceremony would come to a close with the reciting of the last chapter of the Mathnawi.

* This text comprises a summary of the relevant sections taken from Mevlevi Âdâb ve Erkanı by Abdülbaki Gölpınarlı (İnkılap ve Aka Kitabevleri, Yeni Matbaa, İstanbul, 1963)


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