December 17 is the 740th anniversary of the death of the Sufi poet Rumi, whose Persian writings are considered to be a pinnacle of mystical art that transcends religious, cultural and ethnic boundaries. Also known as Mevlana, he died on December 17, 1273 in Konya, Turkey, where he is entombed below the Mevlana Museum.
Rumi's death anniversary is known in Turkey as Wedding Night, or Seb-i Arus in Turkish, which references the idea that when a Sufi saint dies, he or she is believed to have attained union with beloved God. Therefore, it is an occasion of celebration rather than mourning and Sufis gather together to recite poetry and prayers, and whirl in tribute.
Rumi scholar and author of an upcoming Harper Collins biography on the poet, Brad Gooch, told The Huffington Post, "The main commemoration takes place in Konya every year, with the presentation of the Whirling Dervish ceremony central to the order formed around Rumi after his death, the Mevlevi Order. They are famous for the meditative practice of whirling, their signature ceremony that became elegantly codified during the Ottoman period. "
Fahad Faruqui explained in a HuffPost blog, "It must be obvious, by now, that Rumi's death is no somber event for his devotees. It's actually a celebration." He continued, "Timothy Winter, a lecturer of Islamic Studies at Cambridge University, explains why: 'Rumi's death is the moment of his union with his Lord. In Sufism, God is often symbolized as a feminine beloved, known as Layla.'"
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has traveled to Konya to pay his respects.
Rumi's poetry continues to inspire long after his death. His epitaph reads, "When we are dead, seek not our tomb in the earth, but find it in the hearts of men."