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The Interaction between Language and Ritual in the Pilgrimage of Shabe-Arus (Wedding Night): An Anthropological Comprehension of the Mystical and Transnational Role of the Persian Language in Konya, Turkey

The Interaction between Language and Ritual in the Pilgrimage of Shabe-Arus (Wedding Night): An... This article is available open access under a CC BY 4.0 license as part of Berghahn Open Anthro, a subscribe-to-open model for APC-free open access made possible by the journal’s subscribers. The Interaction between Language and Ritual in the Pilgrimage of Shabe-Arus (Wedding Night) An Anthropological Comprehension of the Mystical and Transnational Role of the Persian Language in Konya, Turkey Alireza Hassanzadeh and Somayeh Karimi Abstract: The Persian language, which can have various manifestations and functions, is one of the main elements of the Shabe-arus (Wedding Night) ritual (17 December, Rumi Mausoleum, Konya). Along with other significant elements such as Samâ and mystic music, the Persian language has a significant role and function in the mentioned ritual. Employing an anthropological approach, this study examines and analyses the role of the Persian language in the ritual. The main research question concerned the Persian language’s position and role and the analysis, explanation, and recognition of this role. This study shows that the mystical context of the ritual gives transnational significance and function to the Persian language in the Wedding Night ritual. This meaning is strongly indebted to the mystical paradigm in Rumi’s mysticism, which is represented as the junction of the ritual and language, granting the Persian language an intercultural and multisensory dimension. Keywords: mystical context, mystical/polyphonic brotherhood, Persian language, transnational role of the ritual, wedding night e P Th ersian language and the literature derived from it are mixed in different ways with different types of rituals. The works of such great poets as Ferdowsi, Khaiyâm, Hafez, and Rumi at the national level, and other poets such as Amir Pazevari, Bâbâ Tâher, Sharafshâh Gilâni, and Fayez Dashtestani are seen in important Iranian rituals such as Yalda, Nowrouz, and Tirgân (Boloukbashi 2010; Hassanzadeh 2013; Mirshokrâei 2017; Roholamini 2018). Anthropology of the Middle East, Vol. 17, No. 2, Winter 2022: 118–139 © The Author(s) doi:10.3167/ame.2022.170208 • ISSN 1746-0719 (Print) • ISSN 1746-0727 (Online) e I Th nteraction between Language and Ritual in the Pilgrimage of Shabe-Arus → 119 In Yalda rituals, Hafez’s poems are recited by people in rural and urban communities, and Ferdowsi’s poems (Shâhnâmeh) are recited by people in no- madic communities (see Mirshokrâei 2017). Meanwhile, in addition to Hafez’s poems, which are recited by people for fortune-telling, poems with prophetic aspects like Amir Pazevari and Bâbâ Tâher’s poems are recited during Tirgân Festival, a mid-summer ancient Iranian festival, celebrated annually on Tir 13/ July 2, 3, or 4 (Esmâeilpour 2002; Hassanzadeh 2001). iTh s aspect of the Iranian poetry is more nationalistic and is intertwined with national or local identities. At the same time, the poems of Rumi and Abdul-Qâder Bidel, and on a smaller scale Sharafshâh Gilâni, deal with mysti- cal rituals (Karimi 2014; Olszewska 2015: 53–54). In the two mentioned per- spectives, various roles of the Persian language can be discussed with regard to different rituals. While the prevailing view of the Persian language in Iranian society is concerned with its functions and national role, the relationship be- tween Persian language and mystical rituals, particularly beyond Iranian bor- ders, can be considered and selected as a research subject. This research is done to meet such a need. As the field findings of this study show, many of those who have attended Rumi’s ceremonies as pilgrims have experienced reciting Rumi’s poems and moved from a literary experience toward a ritual experience of Rumi. Among the rituals about Rumi in Konya, the city where he is buried, the Wedding Night (17 December) is more important than other rituals, attracting many of Rumi’s fans. The Wedding Night is held at the time of Rumi’s demise and death, symbolising his ascension to God on 17 December (Hassanzadeh and Karimi 2021). As Cihan Okuyucu (2007) explains, the term shabi arus is lit- erally equated with the ‘wedding night’. Rumi employed this term to imply that death means returning to God; therefore, for his disciples, the end of life (death) is a happy occasion to be celebrated. Indeed, the mystic term of Wedding Night depicts ascending movement toward God as the holy journey of Rumi to divine. Many authors and researchers have applied this term to dis- cuss this mystic ritual (Gooch 2017; Okuyucu 2007; Vande Kappelle 2011). In the sense of theosophists such as Rumi, death is the beginning of a true life that brings immortal happiness. In this mystic pilgrimage and ritual, his followers and fans gather in his mausoleum to pay respect to his memory and show their belief in his mystic path as their guideline of life and in his worldview. These large groups of followers and disciples from different cultural and ethnic back - grounds take part in various rituals and sub-rituals of this mystic pilgrimage, such as reciting his poems, paying tribute to his brilliant thoughts and respect to his shrine, playing mystic music, eating ritualistic food, performing mystic dances (Samâ), and more. A mystic symbolism and metaphor that creates an analogy and similarity between death and the wedding night of a holy man or woman is observable in Middle Eastern mystic cultures. The evident example comes into view in the case of the pilgrimage ritual of Arousi Pirshaliyar, the holy man who belongs to the Iranian Kurdish cultural area of Uramanat. The 120 ← Alireza Hassanzadeh and Somayeh Karimi name of this ritual, derived from a mystic metaphor, is evident in the name of the ritual of Rumi as well (Hassanzadeh and Karimi 2021). In both cases, death is symbolised as the time of ascension to God who is the true beloved of human beings; therefore, the name of wedding has been given to these two rituals. In order to investigate the subject under discussion, the researcher conducted a field study in Konya and studied the role of the Persian language in the Wedding Night ritual. Konya is a city whose social and cultural identity should be defined based on pilgrimage and the tomb of Rumi. This helps the people of Konya to draw a line of fluid identity with respect to attending Rumi’s ritual and revering him. u Th s, as it will be further discussed, Rumi’s mystical rituals have led to the emergence of a type of polyphonic brotherhood that, based on Victor W. Turner’s view, can be considered as a type of ultra-structural commu- nity, namely communitas, as being ‘between and betwixt’ two social stages (2011: 132). This ritualistic polyphonic brotherhood has a deep association with Rumi’s polyphonic and multisensory poetry in terms of the symbolic ap- proach. To put it differently, the Persian language gets a multisensory aspect in mystical literature in an intertextual relationship with other forms of art such as music (Necipoğlu 2016: 151), and this multisensory dimension adds to the intertextual feature of the Persian poetry and, in this perspective, to Rumi’s mystical poetry. Literature Review Regarding the relationship between ritual and language in Rumi’s shrine, very few studies have been conducted, and it seems that anthropological studies have not focused much on the rituals of Rumi’s shrine and its relationship with language. Thus, a review of Rumi studies reveals that the mystical and literary values of Rumi’s works are at the centre of Rumi studies. An important part of the said studies focuses on the literary values of Rumi’s works in a classical and traditional way (see Khorramshahi 2019; Samiei Gilani 2017; Shahbazi 2016; Zarinkoub 2019). At the same time, another part of these works inves- tigate Rumi’s works in a philosophical and theosophical-philosophical ap- proach, ranging from an Iranian reading (see Dinani’s commentary on the mystical sonnets of Rumi in Feizi 2018; Davari Ardakani 2005; Movahed 2018) to an interpretation based on new philosophical approaches (Naraghi 2010; Ghane’ei Kharazmi 2009; Sattari 2018). Modern theories in literature and psy- chology can sometimes be seen in the analysis of Rumi’s works (Mirzaei et al. 2017; Mohammadi and Sufi 2018). Among such works, one can mention the works of Ahmad Ketabi, who has studied such themes as leniency and peace in Rumi’s works in a comparative study from a sociological perspective, present- ing a sociological perception of Rumi’s works (see Ketabi 2014, 2015). Among the studies that have analysed Rumi’s thoughts and poems, H. A. Ghobadi e I Th nteraction between Language and Ritual in the Pilgrimage of Shabe-Arus → 121 shows the significance of literature as a connecting point to the mystical mean - ings while mystic rituals remained out of his sight. However, he has a literary approach and does not employ an anthropological view (see Ghobadi 2004). Sari (2015: 12) studied the rituals and sub-rituals associated with Rumi’s school and discussed its symbolic meanings according to the historical and cultural context. In his view, Samâ House represents the world and the whirl- ing dervishes (Samâ) indicate a movement towards God. He indicated what customs are associated with the rite of passage such as wearing a dervishes’ dresses and hats (ibid.: 8) and how such behaviours as removing the dervish cloak while doing Samâ ree fl cts purification (ibid.: 13). These rituals are ana - lysed according to divine love by scholars such as Calis-Kural Deniz (2016: 78– 100). In his analysis of the rituals, Vaziri focused on the spiritual and mystical aspects of Rumi rituals (divine and heavenly love) (Vaziri 2015). Reinhertz and Abi’l-Khayr (2001) studied the gender structure and women’s role in Rumi’s rituals and examined the leniency toward the presence of women in Rumi’s era and the subsequent strictness for their presence in Rumi’s rituals (2001). Among Persian studies, Shirin Bayani (2003) expressed a similar view and investigated Rumi’s life and the prominent position of women such as his wife, daughter, and bride. Some of these studies about rituals traced the roots of the Wedding Night ritual and, according to the spiritual meaning of death, interpreted it as a connection with God, which has an essence as Wedding Celebration (bond). Hussein (2013: 6) defined Rumi’s death, from his mystical point of view, as passing through a stage and moving away from earthly life and reaching the divine realm. Özdemir (2013) also believes that this ritual should be considered as unification with God. Halman and (1983: 6, 74) and Sari (2015: 23–29) interpreted the symbolic meanings of the dervishes’ ritu- als in Rumi’s shrine based on his approach to divine and mystical love. In her study (2019), Somayeh Karimi investigated cultural tolerance in the Wedding Night ritual in Konya from an anthropological perspective and, based on her e fi ld study and ethnological method, showed how leniency and toleration are formed as mystical rituals in the Rumi shrine. She indicated how the coexist- ence of different groups in the Wedding Night ritual objectifies such concepts as tolerance, friendship, altruism, and brotherhood. Methodology and Research Questions Since this study adopted an anthropological approach, the method used by the researcher was mainly based on anthropological methods such as participat- ing observations and deep interviews with key informants, pilgrims, and local residents in Konya, Turkey. The direct and participating observations mainly were conducted in Baba Namaki shrine, dervish house numbers 5 and 25, the Konya municipal amphitheatre, and some hotel lobbies, such as Pasha Park Hotel, where mystical ceremonies were held. At the same time, the public 122 ← Alireza Hassanzadeh and Somayeh Karimi places in Konya were also observed. e Th interviews were held with key actors and informants, such groups as managers and staff in ritual, cultural, tourism, and academic sites related to Rumi’s rituals, and semi-structured interviews with locals (residents of Konya) and Turkish, Iranian, and English-speaking pilgrims. The investigation began 15 days before the Wedding Night ritual and continued for up to 30 days ae ft r the ritual in Konya. The methodology of present study rests upon an epistemological base through a multisensory approach and perception of the topic: literature, music, food and dance. Here, this notion of ritual is in conformity with V. W. Turner’s sense of ritual as a multisensory experience (Turner 1970: 25, 36; Spickard 2017: 195). To Turner, deep comprehension of ritual depends on the perception of ritual symbols in action and practice (Spickard 2017: 195–196). Ritual as a non-verbal form has been combined with verbal forms of literature. Therefore, the present topic simultaneously needs an intertextual and inter-ritual perception (see Hassanzadeh 2013: 584–622; Kreinath 2020: 397–398) of the present topic. Without this methodological approach, ethnographic observations of key as- pects of the ritual in its different verbal and non-verbal shapes remain out of sight, such as poetry, whirling dance, music, and so on. Indeed, as Stephen Dawson and Tomoko Iwasawa argue (2001: 260–270), non-verbal awareness of ritual is tied to verbal forms of literature in this type of ritual pilgrimage. Since Edwards applied the same methodology in his study on Shakespeare pil- grims (Edwards 2005: 50–61), it is necessary to consider a holistic perspective in which all participants engaged as key actors in the ritual. The people under study are divided into several groups: a group as the carrier of lived experi- ences; the key informants as Turkish key actors of this ritual; and a group that takes part in the ritual as the pilgrims and/or tourists. It should be clear that some key actors, such as Lithuanians and Indians are present in this ritual perspective. One of the key actors in this ritual context is Lithuanian dervishes who all dressed in white shirts, are disciples under instruction of a female Sufi teacher. Three languages were applied as means of communication: Persian for interviewing Iranian people; Turkish for interviewing Turkish people; and English as a lingua franca to others. Camera, voice recorder, field notes and a map of the area were the main equipment during the field study. In terms of methodology, this anthropological research is comparable to Holmes-Rodman (2004) who has done a study in Mexican ritual pilgrimage. e k Th ey questions of this research are as follows: • What ee ff ct does the mystical context of Wedding Night ritual in Rumi shrine and Konya city have on the Persian language? • Is the main function of the Persian language in the Wedding Night ritual based on national or transnational function and role? • What is the relationship between the Persian language and other el- ements in the Wedding Night ritual such as whirling dance (Samâ), music, space and narration as ritual context? e I Th nteraction between Language and Ritual in the Pilgrimage of Shabe-Arus → 123 Field Findings: Questions about the Interaction of Ritual and Language e fir Th st concern that the researcher dealt with was the relationship between ritual and language. In fact, concerning the Wedding Night ritual, the key question that arises is what is the relationship between literature and ritual in a ceremony that belongs to a great poet and mystic? Field findings and in - terviews were used to answer this question. The first thing discovered in the interviews with the pilgrims, particularly Iranian pilgrims, was that many of the people who attended the Wedding Night ritual first read Rumi’s poems in his books and then attended his rituals in Konya, notably the Wedding Night ritual. In other words, based on what was revealed from the interviews with the pilgrims, the textual experience (literature/poetry) takes precedence over ritual experience (attendance at the ritual). Rumi is first known for his poems, and then the people’s relationship with Rumi deepens thanks to attending his ritual and shrine: this is a fusion of literature and ritual horizons and textual and contextual experiences. Thus, as it will be further discussed, a literary ac - quaintance becomes an informal membership in pilgrims as a normative and existential communitas as defined by Turner (see 2011: 132). This communi - tas, which depends on language and ritual, is experienced and sustained in Iran by attending some poetry recitals and then in Konya by attending Rumi’s rituals. This type of experience can be observed in other poets and mystics, such as Shah Nimatullah Wali and Bayazid Bastami in Mahan, Kerman, and Shahroud, Iran (Pourjavadi 2015; Sahraei and Oroujnia 2018). These groups of pilgrims who have literary and mystical inclinations gather at the poet and mystic’s shrine to play music and recite his poems: In Kerman, we go to Shah Nimatullah Wali’s shrine as well, we go there with friends and recite poems and play musical instruments. This is the climax of what makes us ecstatic. (Male, 55, from Kerman, Iran) We also have experienced the same thing in Bayazid Bastami’s shrine, where we recite poems, sing, and play musical instruments. Our dream was to come here to recite poems, play an instrument, and listen to other people’s poem recitals and music. (Male, 36, from Mashhad, Iran) I first got to know Rumi through his Persian poems, and then I immersed in the passion of his poetry and came to Konya. (Female, 49, from Tabriz, Iran) In most of the people interviewed, a family member, relative, or teacher intro- duced Rumi’s poetry to them during their childhood or adolescence: Rumi was first introduced to me by my father through the poems he recited to me. Rumi’s poetry has such messages as friendship, solidarity, and love, and Rumi’s lesson in his poems is the same lesson of humanity and friendship, which is ree fl cted in his ritual. Many people from different nations and regions all come here to achieve friendship, unity, love, peace, and ae ff ction. (Female, 49, from Tehran, Iran) 124 ← Alireza Hassanzadeh and Somayeh Karimi As a child, I read Rumi’s poems thanks to my uncle, and then I grew an interest in Rumi. (Male, 36, from Tehran, Iran) In fact, the pilgrims’ description of the type and form of their pilgrimage shows the transformation of a textual (and subjective) experience into a ritual (and objective) experience. They consider the ritual experience as comple - mentary to the textual and linguistic experience and consider it as a factor in deepening their thoughts, ideas, and emotions about Rumi and his worldview: Here, I can find a deeper and further knowledge of Rumi’s mysterious words. Rumi’s pilgrimage ritual helps us to feel the meaning of his words through rites. Here, you can find and observe the very multiplicity and unity that Rumi presents in his poems. (Female, 52, from Tehran, Iran) e c Th ommunitas and liminal definition of pilgrimage and ritual, which sepa - rates it from the formal culture and its closed normative borders, is in line with their definition of the Persian language and its function in Rumi’s ritual: The Persian language here is not merely the language of a group, it is not the language of a particular nation, but rather it is the language of love, the language of brotherhood, and the language of all nations. The language of love is the lan - guage of brotherhood, the language that everyone understands. (Female, 48, from Tabriz, Iran) The language by which knowledge can be acquired, particularly the knowledge of God, is the language that belongs to all nations. In Rumi’s poems, the Persian language becomes the language of all nations of the world. (Female, 36, from Tehran, Iran) Textual experience Subjective experience In his poetries Textual/ Ritual linguistic Experience In his ritual Experience Objective Inter-Textual Experience Experience Figure 1. Dynamics of understanding Rumi’s worldview and ontology from the viewpoint of pilgrims in Konya, Iran, e I Th nteraction between Language and Ritual in the Pilgrimage of Shabe-Arus → 125 In fact, what is revealed from the pilgrims’ experiences of visiting Rumi’s shrine on the Wedding Night ritual is how to extend a textual understanding of Rumi’s ontology toward a broad and intertextual understanding (see Figure 1). e r Th itual’s intertextual aspect adds to the multisensory dimensions of Rumi’s ontological understanding, and linguistic experience is defined with regard to ritual experience as a dependent identity: o Th se who attend here are all brothers. In the past, they recited Rumi’s poems at home, in the library, or at the university. Here, they are like the beads of a misbahah (prayer beads), and they have become brothers and sisters. (Female, 41, from Gilan, Iran) Here, I think I am like a drop in the ocean of Rumi’s poetry. (Male, 39, from Pakistan) I got to know Rumi through the translations of his poems. I come from Japan, and I was very impressed by his pilgrimage. I have a deep connection with other pilgrims. (Female, 33, from Japan) In fact, due to the importance of the polyphony of Rumi’s poetry, the ritual gives an objective form to the meanings in the language (and poetry). However, what seems very important is the emphasis on the informal aspects of Rumi’s poems and literature, which means an open form of spirituality by the pilgrims: e Th re are many languages known as the language of religion, but Persian is the language of spirituality, the language of mysticism, so that is the reason why it has become popular among all people. If this language were not a soft and flexible language, it could not produce meaning in Rumi’s poetry that everyone would love and understand. (Male, 39, from Tehran, Iran) What can be grasped in the observations and interviews is the pilgrims’ atten- tion to the transformation of a textual experience into an intertextual and con- textual experience. They compare the mentioned ritual with other rituals and consider the Persian language comprehensible in Rumi’s poetry, which adds to the depth of understanding in the Wedding Night ritual. They believe that the intangible, inner feeling associated with literature (Rumi’s poetry) makes this spirituality deductive, logical, and for this reason, they consider the Persian language in Rumi’s poetry supportive of rationality and wisdom that makes Rumi’s mysticism logical and different from superstition: At the same time, the inter-ethnic and intercultural quality of the language and ritual is highly emphasised by the pilgrims. With reference to Rumi’s poems, the argumentative-mystical principles are an integral part of the pilgrims’ experience in interacting with one another and the accounts of their presence in the Wedding Night ritual in Konya. They either recite Rumi’s poems or use them to argue about their pilgrimage iden- tity. It is based on the combination of two linguistic and ritual experiences: 126 ← Alireza Hassanzadeh and Somayeh Karimi I am about 60 years old. I used to be a dogmatic person, I mean about 40 years ago. Ae ft r I got to know Rumi, I let go of the dogma. I read his poems and I am no longer that biased person I used to be. When I came here, my thoughts and mind were further expanded. (Male, 60, from Tehran, Iran) iTh s argumentative-mystical view is also used by pilgrims about the use and function of the Persian language: e P Th ersian language is like a bridge. It brings people together in Rumi’s poetry. It does not matter where they come from. Rumi is the architect of this bridge. When he calls for a place in nowhere, and an unmarked mark, therefore his language is the meta-language. e Th Persian language is the spiritual heritage of all people who are in love. (Female, 52, from Konya) Do not look for national colours here, here nothing and no one belongs to anything. Everything is humane, universal, mystical: I see the universe as one, I seek the one. (Female, 43, from Tehran, Iran) e m Th entioned that the pilgrims emphasise the intercultural aspects of Persian language in Rumi’s poetry: Here, it does not matter where I come from; such borders are meaningless when you meet Rumi. Here, the language of poetry is the language of peace, the language of feeling. This language belongs to anyone who is closer to Rumi. This music and Samâ belong to everyone. (Female, 55, from Tabriz, Iran) I used to be a very nationalist person, but from the 1990s, when I got to know Rumi, my outlook changed. Rumi has defined humans’ relationships with other human beings based on altruism. (Male, 51, from Tehran, Iran) e fi Th eld observations of this study also confirm what was mentioned in the interviews. In Konya Municipality Cultural Complex Hall, which is the venue for one of the main events of the Wedding Night ritual, different languages and alphabets are displayed at the entrance, and the focus on plurality in unity and unity in plurality is shown by Rumi and his mystical paradigm. At the entrance of this hall, people are welcome in different languages (Figure 2). e Th Persian language has a special position in this regard because what is displayed in the Konya War Museum toward the municipal amphitheatre, where a large replica of Rumi’s and Shams Tabrizi’s books are shown, ree fl cts this. In Konya Municipality Cultural Complex Hall, in the main event of the city for the Wedding Night ritual, the ritual begins and continues in three lan- guages: Persian, English, and Turkish. It is interesting that in this event, the use of Persian and English has precedent over Turkish. The main speaker was the former head of the Turkish Ministry of Tourism and Culture, who also recited some Persian poems (Figure 3). e I Th nteraction between Language and Ritual in the Pilgrimage of Shabe-Arus → 127 Figure 2. The entrance of the venue where Rumi’s Wedding Night ritual is held at Konya Municipality Cultural Complex Hall, Konya. ©Somayeh Karimi Figure 3. e p Th resence of the Persian language during the ritual in Konya. ©Alireza Hassanzadeh 128 ← Alireza Hassanzadeh and Somayeh Karimi In dervish house numbers 5 and 25, the Persian language is one of the main languages used to recite Rumi’s poems. The Latvian band staying at the Pasha Park Hotel spoke about their belief in Rumi’s ritual and that, due to his global and humanistic thoughts, there is a universal language that transcends politi- cal boundaries: Samâ music and dance are universal languages that form the essence and structure of Rumi’s ritual. You should also see the Persian language based on the universal, humanistic, and mystical values that it expresses. (Male, 38, from Latvia, Hotel, Konya) Chelebi families known as Rumi’s descendants still live in Konya. Esin Chelebi as the head of family mentioned in his interviews that she understands Persian but cannot speak it yet intends to learn it. She considers the Persian language as the common heritage of all human beings that, beyond the national Iranian borders, invites the world to brotherhood, love, peace, and friendship. e Th vice-chancellor of Konya University also states that in the unwritten traditions of unoci ffi al education of children in Konya, the works of Rumi and Saadi Shirazi’s book (Gulistan) were taught to them. He considers the Persian language as a common heritage that creates a spiritual atmosphere in human beings’ connection and closeness. One of the signs of the mentioned atmosphere is that well-known artists such as Shahram Nazeri and other singers like Hamidreza Khojandi recite Hafez’s poems in Rumi’s Wedding Night ritual. This indicates the bond be - tween mystical horizons and mystical-polyphonic texts in the Persian lan- guage (Hafez, Rumi, Attar, etc.). Given the main forms and key patterns of pilgrims’ behaviour in Rumi’s shrine, which includes praying, reciting the Quran, reciting Rumi’s poems, and listening to literary and mystical sermons, the Persian language plays a con- necting and powerful role in the Wedding Night ritual in Rumi’s shrine and in Konya. Pilgrims recite Rumi’s poems in Persian while immersed in themselves, eyes closed, or tears rolling down their faces. In this case, the ritualistic atmos- phere transforms Rumi’s poetry from an external and textual experience into an internal and contextual-ritual experience. In fact, ritual turns poetry from a text into a lived experience (Figure 1). Dier ff ent representations of identity exist between Persian speakers’ pil - grims (Iranian, Afghan and Tajik) and those pilgrims who speak in non- Persian language. Persian speakers, mostly Iranian, find Persian poets more close to each other while recount some stories on some journey stories of Rumi from Balkh to Konya particularly his meeting with Attar (Iranian mystic poet, 1146–1221) in Nishapur city. Regardless of a mystic-transnational iden- tity among Iranian pilgrims, sometimes intercultural, inter-ritual and inter- textual experiences come into view among them. To clarify, it should be clear that the senses of transnational and national identity coexist with each other. e I Th nteraction between Language and Ritual in the Pilgrimage of Shabe-Arus → 129 Fusion of Ritual and Literary Horizons: From the Text to the Context Interviews with the people and elites of Turkish society in Konya, as well as the pilgrims in the city, expose us to other manifestations and forms of the Persian language’s function, which can be considered as the transnational role of the Persian language as a common heritage of all nations and ethnic groups in the region. This can be observed in several perspectives of the Wedding Night ritual in Konya. In the lobbies of hotels and public places, along with Samâ and music, which are among the most powerful and key elements on the Wedding Night ritual, reciting Persian poems has special importance, particu- larly among Iranians. In Rumi’s shrine, some hotel lobbies, and even restau- rants and cafes, you can see men and women reciting Rumi’s poems. Reciting Persian poems in the hotel halls around Rumi’s shrine, such as the Kaymak Hotel and Pasha Park or Cafe Hich, is accompanied by reciting Azeri and Istanbul Turkish poems, and at times a foreign tourist joins the gathering and recites the English translation of Rumi’s poetry. Meanwhile, there are banners, flags, and posters all over the city, which tell of the days of brotherhood in 2017, in three languages: Persian, Istanbul Turkish, and English, and there are even some sentences praising Konya in the Persian language. Most of the events are held with the coexistence of these three lan- guages For instance, in Pasha Park Hotel’s event, in which the Latvian band attends, a Turkish singer from Istanbul and a Persian singer attend and some university lecturers give a speech in Persian and the other foreign lecturers also recite some of Rumi’s poems in Persian language to show their knowledge of Rumi (Figure 4). Figure 4. Banners in three languages: Persian, Istanbul Turkish, and English. © Somayeh Karimi 130 ← Alireza Hassanzadeh and Somayeh Karimi One of the residents of Konya also mentions Rumi’s poem about grapes (see Zecchini 2014: 127) and believes that meaning is important here, and the Persian language expresses this meaning regardless of skin colour, race, and ethnic roots: r Th ough the Persian language, Rumi invites everyone to unity and brotherhood, and therefore, Persian is no longer the language of one nation, because love and brotherhood are the languages of all nations. Persian is the language of brother- hood. (Male, 66, from Konya, Turkey) e v Th ice-chancellor of Seljuk University (Konya) also has the same opinion: In everything Rumi has left for us, his Persian poems, rituals, Samâ, and music, he has created a legacy that makes us all brothers and sisters. Rumi’s thought and worldview are a combination of cultural facts belonging to Iranian, Turkish, Islamic, Arabic, Christian, and other cultures. In fact, Rumi’s poetry can be compared to food like Halva.…You may not like these if you eat them separately. In Rumi’s poetry, the Persian language becomes Halva that you can no longer separate the Turkish, Iranian, Christian, etc. elements. Rumi’s legacy is the legacy of friendship and love. The Persian language is also in the service of this heritage. The Persian language has been a suitable container for Rumi’s thought. In conversations with the local people of Konya, they mention books such as Saadi Shirazi’s Gulistan and Rumi’s poems in the old schools of Konya as a key part of Turkish children traditional system of education among previous generations, and this is one of the reasons for the transnational functions of the Persian language. Although the Iranian pilgrims in Konya have a textual (poetic) and contextual (ritual) relationship with the Wedding Night ritual, they emphasise the transnational aspect of the Persian language and its mysti- cal functions and role. In fact, here the mystical paradigm grants a multicultural aspect to the Persian language that is tied to friendship, tolerance, love, and altruism. Hence, a group of pilgrims believes that Rumi’s pilgrimage ritual, due to its symbolic, cultural and literary aspect, introduces us to more intellective and enlightened pilgrims and tourists: Pilgrims and tourists who come here are more educated than other tourists and pilgrims because they are already familiar with mystical concepts such as friend- ship, love, toleration, brotherhood, and equality in Rumi’s poetry. (Female, 34, pilgrim, Konya) Reciting Rumi’s books in Persian is mainly seen among Rumi’s pilgrims in his shrine during the Wedding Night ritual. Reciting the text of Rumi’s books on this time is accompanied by emotional expressions and feeling of the pilgrims that came to climax in behaviours such as crying in interior space of Rumi’s shrine. The chambers and halls around the entrance gates of Rumi’s shrine e I Th nteraction between Language and Ritual in the Pilgrimage of Shabe-Arus → 131 are also places where Rumi’s poems are recited for the attendees. In dervish house numbers 25 and 5, as well as the ceremonies held by Latvians, one of the languages that connects ritual and literature is the Persian language. In the Latvians’ event, a Persian-Kurdish singer from Kermanshah (known as H.  Khojandi), combines Rumi and Hafez’s poems with Iranian music and sings, and the Turkish singer accompanies him. In the meantime, the female and male dervishes dressed in special white clothes start Samâ. In house numbers 25 and 5, where singing, playing mystical music, and Samâ during the Wedding Night are common, the Persian language through Rumi’s poems have a specific and mystical significance for Iranians and non- Iranians and deepen the pilgrims’ mystical atmosphere and experience. e Th transcendental and unworldly adsorbent symbolism in the cultural and mystical context of Konya, particularly during the rituals such as the Wedding Night ritual, grants a transnational significance to all the elements in the ritual. iTh s can be seen in the use of other elements such as music and narration. e u Th se of Arabic (and Quranic) terms that have a unifying and intercultural aspect (for instance, the famous Islamic phrase, ‘there is no God but Allah’, lit. La Ilaha Ila Allah) can also be understood in this context. Here one can point out the fluid identity and polyphony of the attendees in the Wedding Night ritual (Hassanzadeh 2014). The Interaction between the Persian Language and Other Key Elements: Narrative, Music, and Samâ As explained, one of the characteristics of the mystical context is to expand the significance and transcend all the elements present in the ritual or are related to its symbolic system. The researchers examined some of these key elements including narratives, naming, music, and Samâ. In the accounts told by the local people of Konya, two narratives can ree fl ct the transcendental nature of the Persian language in elevating the meaning. As observed in connection with the Persian language, the mystical context in Rumi’s ritual elevates the national role of the Persian language to ontological (transnational) role. The accounts told by the people of Konya, Baba Namaki or AtesBaz-i Veli Turbesi (Rumi’s close friend and disciple as well as the chef of his house and school) are worth considering. Food rituals and their mystic rites enjoy a significant status and rich back - grounds in Konya mystic shrines such as Baba Namaki and Baba Tavous. Salt plays a mystic role in these tombs. As an example, Baba Namaki has a shrine on the outskirts of Konya which is oe ft n visited by the people of Konya (and other cities of Turkey) as well as Iran. The ritual behaviour in this shrine has an intercultural and transnational significance and highlights the culture of pilgrimage in Konya. Most Iranians put salt in a small, rectangular plastic 132 ← Alireza Hassanzadeh and Somayeh Karimi packet and distribute it among the people in the shrine. The locals in Konya (and Turkey) take these small packets of salt home and believe that the salt would bring them wealth, blessings, and health. For the people of the Middle East, salt is a symbol of life and blessing and a repellent of calamity and death (see Kuhn 2013: 83). The mystical context of the Wedding Night ritual is one of the best ex - amples of a multisensory atmosphere in which ritual and literature (Persian language) are linked. In other perspectives of Iranian culture, in such rituals as Chaharshanbe Suri, Yalda, and Tirgân, one can observe the link between na- tional (Hafez, Rumi, and Ferdowsi) and local literature (Amir Pazevari, Baba Tahir, Fayez Dashtestani, Sharafshah Gilani, etc.). Compared to Rumi’s poems, these poems are used and recited either be- cause of their narrative values in the Yalda ritual (Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh) or because of their interpretable and hermeneutic aspect, which involves a cycle of significance and adapting it to individuals’ lives (poems of Hafez). Indeed, in this regard, from the combination of ritual and poetry, we have observed stories and legends that have been told about these poets among the people, stories of Rumi, Hafez, Ferdowsi, Saadi Shirazi, Sharafshah, and Fayez that are narrated as legends (see Hassanzadeh 2002). What makes the combination of poetry and literature different in the Wedding Night ritual is first the pilgrim’s movement from a literary text (ac - quaintance with Rumi’s poetry and interest in it) to the ritual in his shrine and monument. In this case, the textual experience becomes a ritual experience and according to the words of the attendees in the ritual, the objective experi- ence becomes an inner experience. In the movement from textual experience toward ritual experience, an in- tertextual event occurs. According to Julia Kristeva (2002: 48), in defining the intertextual situation, contextual elements such as gender and ethnicity play an important role in the creation and interpretation of the different and symbolic significance of a text (see Giere 2009: 3; Litwak 2005: 44–47; Todorov 1984: 60). For instance, the clothing of women who use Rumi’s poems on their headscarves can show the intertextual significance of Rumi’s poetry in the Wedding Night ritual, and this shows the strategy of Iranian women in defining their identity through their clothing (Hoodfar 2012: 191–193). At the same time, the multisensory aspect of the ritual, which appears specifically in the combination of music and poetry, strengthens the mentioned intertex- tuality. According to the interviewees, who attend the Wedding Night ritual as pilgrims to Rumi’s shrine, they deepen the mystical understanding of his poetry by attending Rumi’s ritual and shrine. Moreover, the important point is the modified role and function of the Persian language in a new context in which it enters. If we consider literature merely as a literary masterpiece within a country like Iran (and other Persian-speaking countries such as Afghanistan and Tajikistan), it is praised as a product of Persian cross-cultural civilisation and creativity. e I Th nteraction between Language and Ritual in the Pilgrimage of Shabe-Arus → 133 Here, the context of language understanding is a nationalist context that makes Iranians, as one of the main speakers of Persian as a mother tongue, aware of the cultural, civilisational, and literary values hidden in their home- land and their national language. However, the journey of the Persian language from the national context to the mystical context in another land grants a dif- ferent significance to the Persian language from the viewpoint of the pilgrims and the host society. The language is not merely the language of an ethnic or national group but a mystical language that contains transnational sig- nificance. This language, which is designated by pilgrims and Turkish people, particularly the people of Konya, as the language of love and equality, friend- ship, brotherhood, and so forth, has a transnational function and role in this regard. This language has become a bridge, a connecting point of different ethnic groups and nations. According to Rumi, this language is devoid of the nationalist point of view, which creates ethnic, linguistic, racial, and cultural boundaries. This function of the Persian language is in line with the function of other key elements of the Wedding Night ritual such as music and dance. e p Th ilgrims and the people of Konya consider all the elements of the Wedding Night ritual to be intercultural/transnational and common elements. Along with theories such as the Persian Belt proposed by Changiz Pahlavan (2003, 2011, 2012; also see Karimi 2014), one should consider the transnational as- pects of Persian as a language that ree fl cts the deepest mystical experiences of different nations. This indicates the polyphony of the Persian language in its mystical works. This polyphony, as Bakhtin (1984, 2013) emphasises as a key feature of ritual (carnival) in combination with literature and language (Rabelais and Dostoevsky), has found another destiny in the Persian language. In Rumi’s ritual, along with the carnival and grotesque literature, mystical lit- erature in the works of such poets as Hafez and Rumi has a polyphonic aspect and is associated with polyphonic rituals in Iran and various countries such as Turkey (Walbridge 2001: 58). This feature not only does not diminish the validity of the Persian language but also reveals its universal literary values in the perspective of mystical approach and shows that the Persian language in its mystical context is also universal and polyphonic. This fact, of course, is not limited to Konya and should be studied in other parts of the world by examining the rituals of Abdul-Qādir Bidel in India (Olszewska 2015: 54–53). u Th s, rather than relying more on historical data such as the prevalence of the Persian language in the Seljuk era in the Ottoman Empire (Romer 2010: 322; Wirtz 2017: 101), this study emphasised the field observations of the contem - porary vital role of the Persian language in its mystical context; a language that combines with the national rituals of countries, such as Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan, not only in rituals such as Nowruz but also in rituals such as the mystical Wedding Night ritual in Konya, revealing the connection between Persian ritual and literature and language and mysticism. The Persian language is linked to the ritual and indigenous systems of Konya and other pilgrims from other parts of the world throughout history. 134 ← Alireza Hassanzadeh and Somayeh Karimi In this mystic context, the role of the Persian language that has emerged in a fusion of literary and ritual horizons, which leads us to an important form of identity: the mystical-polyphonic brotherhood of identity in Rumi pilgrimage. e m Th ystical-polyphonic brotherhood of identity refers to what Turner (1970: 50) discusses as multi-vocality while it is close to what M. Bakhtin (2006: 428) poses as heteroglossia (Renfrew 2015:98–111). In this case, mystic multi- vocality context replaces the polyphonic nature of carnival: mystic hetero glossia versus carnival heteroglossia. However, the mystical-polyphonic brotherhood of identity can be known as an upward liminality in this context as a holy re- versal of norms and a mystic liminality (see Hassanzadeh 2014). Accordingly, some key features of rigid borders are meaningless, such as race, ethnicity, gender and nationality. Due to the notion of multi-vocality, all groups who are present in the scene of this ritual create ritual meanings and roles. They find a strong tie to each other as a related identity while representing their different interpretation and meaning making roles. Persian mystic literature has been transmitted to other cultural literary traditions including themes, motifs and tales (Seyed-Gohrab 2012: 10–11). Persian language that owns a mystic literature transcends national borders and enter into different cultural contexts (Soheili 2017: 42, 6–9). Soheili (ibid.: 7) believes in another area in which the ‘creative aspect of language use’ and its associated concepts of freedom and unboundedness play a central role. He argues that this mystical language functions in distinguishable ways for many Persian mystic poets or Sufis belonging to various branches, such as theosophical, theopathetic and theurgic. This mystic language connects in- siders to outsides through a transcendental meaning and messages (ibid.). As such, as this ethnographic research confirms, rituals convey this message to Persianate countries (Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan). As Murat Umut Inan (2019: 75–92) indicates, this mystic role of the Persian language results in a lingua franca that makes some elements, such as ethnicity, race and national- ity, meaningless. The Wedding Night ritual is tied to a transnational meaning of cultural symbolism. This symbolism can be found in the polyphonic- mystic Persian literature that has led to a maturity of the polyphonic-mystic brother- hood through the non-verbal functions of rituals. This corresponds to the historical role of pilgrimage culture in Iran and neighbouring countries (Khosronejad 2012). Conclusion e P Th ersian language finds a strong intercultural feature in the mystical context of the Wedding Night ritual, which is the product of the power of polyphony and depth and the symbolic and ontological broadness of Rumi’s thoughts. The role and function of the Persian language find a transnational role in countries that use it as their mother and official language (Iran, Tajikistan, e I Th nteraction between Language and Ritual in the Pilgrimage of Shabe-Arus → 135 and Afghanistan). This transnational role is mainly due to its mystical content, which through such concepts as love, brotherhood, friendship, unity, empathy, ae ff ction, peace and tolerance depicts an identity beyond geographical, ethnic, racial, and local boundaries. Thus, it should be noted that the Persian language has two national functions within its borders and another transnational role that is manifested in the mystical context of the poetry of such poets like Rumi. e Th mystical context of such rituals as the Wedding Night and the symbolic system in Rumi’s mystical poems grant a transnational status to the Persian language and make it the language of all nations and people. Accordingly, thanks to its deep concepts, such as love, friendship, equality, and empathy, in the mystical context of Rumi’s poems, the Persian language can be considered as a connecting point of ethnic groups and nations all over the world. Alireza Hassanzadeh is a faculty member at Anthropological Research Center/ Cultural Heritage and Tourism Research Institute. He has been director of this Institute since 2014. He got his PhD in anthropology from Goethe University in 2013. Some of his published books include: Folk Narratives as Lived Experience (Baz Publication, 2002); Woman and Culture: Commemoration of Margaret Mead’s 100th Birthday (Ney Publication, 2003) as editor; Rituality and Normativity (Amsterdam University Press 2013); Iranian Children and Eastern and Western Fairy Tales (Aa fk r Publication, 2016); and Culture in the Shadow of the Covid 19 Pandemic (Culture, Art and Communication Research Center, 2022) as editor. His novels have been inspired by Iranian folk cultures in works such as Tehran, People and Crows (Ketabsarye Nik Publication 2017), the King of Nader and the Gypsy Girl from India (Morvarid Publication 2019), Massacre of Fairies (Morvarid Publication 2020), Tragedy of Being a Donkey (Morvarid Publication 2020), and e S Th ecret of the Death of the Poet of Gypsies: Federico García Lorca (Morvarid Publication, in press, 2023). Email: a.hasanzadeh@richt.ir Somayeh Karimi is assistant professor at the Institute for Humanities and Cultural Studies. She is interested in urban anthropology, ethnic studies and cultural tolerance. Among her publications are: ‘An Anthropological Approach to Ecological Issues’ in The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Environmental Sustainability, 17(1), 34–44 (2021); ‘Tolerance and Pilgrimage: e E Th xperience of Tolerance at Mevlana Jalal Ad-Din Rumi Mausoleum’ in Biquarterly Journal of Sociology of Social Institutions, 12, 29–50 (2019); ‘e Th Challenge of Discourses: Normative Orders and Ethnicity’ in International Journal of the Humanities, 9(8), 83–94 (2011); Ethnicity and Normativity, Amsterdam University Press (2013). Email: s.karimi@gmail.com 136 ← Alireza Hassanzadeh and Somayeh Karimi References Bakhtin, M. (1984), Rabelais and His World, (trans.) H. Iswolsky (Bloomington: Indi- ana University Press). Bakhtin, M. 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The Interaction between Language and Ritual in the Pilgrimage of Shabe-Arus (Wedding Night): An Anthropological Comprehension of the Mystical and Transnational Role of the Persian Language in Konya, Turkey

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Abstract

This article is available open access under a CC BY 4.0 license as part of Berghahn Open Anthro, a subscribe-to-open model for APC-free open access made possible by the journal’s subscribers. The Interaction between Language and Ritual in the Pilgrimage of Shabe-Arus (Wedding Night) An Anthropological Comprehension of the Mystical and Transnational Role of the Persian Language in Konya, Turkey Alireza Hassanzadeh and Somayeh Karimi Abstract: The Persian language, which can have various manifestations and functions, is one of the main elements of the Shabe-arus (Wedding Night) ritual (17 December, Rumi Mausoleum, Konya). Along with other significant elements such as Samâ and mystic music, the Persian language has a significant role and function in the mentioned ritual. Employing an anthropological approach, this study examines and analyses the role of the Persian language in the ritual. The main research question concerned the Persian language’s position and role and the analysis, explanation, and recognition of this role. This study shows that the mystical context of the ritual gives transnational significance and function to the Persian language in the Wedding Night ritual. This meaning is strongly indebted to the mystical paradigm in Rumi’s mysticism, which is represented as the junction of the ritual and language, granting the Persian language an intercultural and multisensory dimension. Keywords: mystical context, mystical/polyphonic brotherhood, Persian language, transnational role of the ritual, wedding night e P Th ersian language and the literature derived from it are mixed in different ways with different types of rituals. The works of such great poets as Ferdowsi, Khaiyâm, Hafez, and Rumi at the national level, and other poets such as Amir Pazevari, Bâbâ Tâher, Sharafshâh Gilâni, and Fayez Dashtestani are seen in important Iranian rituals such as Yalda, Nowrouz, and Tirgân (Boloukbashi 2010; Hassanzadeh 2013; Mirshokrâei 2017; Roholamini 2018). Anthropology of the Middle East, Vol. 17, No. 2, Winter 2022: 118–139 © The Author(s) doi:10.3167/ame.2022.170208 • ISSN 1746-0719 (Print) • ISSN 1746-0727 (Online) e I Th nteraction between Language and Ritual in the Pilgrimage of Shabe-Arus → 119 In Yalda rituals, Hafez’s poems are recited by people in rural and urban communities, and Ferdowsi’s poems (Shâhnâmeh) are recited by people in no- madic communities (see Mirshokrâei 2017). Meanwhile, in addition to Hafez’s poems, which are recited by people for fortune-telling, poems with prophetic aspects like Amir Pazevari and Bâbâ Tâher’s poems are recited during Tirgân Festival, a mid-summer ancient Iranian festival, celebrated annually on Tir 13/ July 2, 3, or 4 (Esmâeilpour 2002; Hassanzadeh 2001). iTh s aspect of the Iranian poetry is more nationalistic and is intertwined with national or local identities. At the same time, the poems of Rumi and Abdul-Qâder Bidel, and on a smaller scale Sharafshâh Gilâni, deal with mysti- cal rituals (Karimi 2014; Olszewska 2015: 53–54). In the two mentioned per- spectives, various roles of the Persian language can be discussed with regard to different rituals. While the prevailing view of the Persian language in Iranian society is concerned with its functions and national role, the relationship be- tween Persian language and mystical rituals, particularly beyond Iranian bor- ders, can be considered and selected as a research subject. This research is done to meet such a need. As the field findings of this study show, many of those who have attended Rumi’s ceremonies as pilgrims have experienced reciting Rumi’s poems and moved from a literary experience toward a ritual experience of Rumi. Among the rituals about Rumi in Konya, the city where he is buried, the Wedding Night (17 December) is more important than other rituals, attracting many of Rumi’s fans. The Wedding Night is held at the time of Rumi’s demise and death, symbolising his ascension to God on 17 December (Hassanzadeh and Karimi 2021). As Cihan Okuyucu (2007) explains, the term shabi arus is lit- erally equated with the ‘wedding night’. Rumi employed this term to imply that death means returning to God; therefore, for his disciples, the end of life (death) is a happy occasion to be celebrated. Indeed, the mystic term of Wedding Night depicts ascending movement toward God as the holy journey of Rumi to divine. Many authors and researchers have applied this term to dis- cuss this mystic ritual (Gooch 2017; Okuyucu 2007; Vande Kappelle 2011). In the sense of theosophists such as Rumi, death is the beginning of a true life that brings immortal happiness. In this mystic pilgrimage and ritual, his followers and fans gather in his mausoleum to pay respect to his memory and show their belief in his mystic path as their guideline of life and in his worldview. These large groups of followers and disciples from different cultural and ethnic back - grounds take part in various rituals and sub-rituals of this mystic pilgrimage, such as reciting his poems, paying tribute to his brilliant thoughts and respect to his shrine, playing mystic music, eating ritualistic food, performing mystic dances (Samâ), and more. A mystic symbolism and metaphor that creates an analogy and similarity between death and the wedding night of a holy man or woman is observable in Middle Eastern mystic cultures. The evident example comes into view in the case of the pilgrimage ritual of Arousi Pirshaliyar, the holy man who belongs to the Iranian Kurdish cultural area of Uramanat. The 120 ← Alireza Hassanzadeh and Somayeh Karimi name of this ritual, derived from a mystic metaphor, is evident in the name of the ritual of Rumi as well (Hassanzadeh and Karimi 2021). In both cases, death is symbolised as the time of ascension to God who is the true beloved of human beings; therefore, the name of wedding has been given to these two rituals. In order to investigate the subject under discussion, the researcher conducted a field study in Konya and studied the role of the Persian language in the Wedding Night ritual. Konya is a city whose social and cultural identity should be defined based on pilgrimage and the tomb of Rumi. This helps the people of Konya to draw a line of fluid identity with respect to attending Rumi’s ritual and revering him. u Th s, as it will be further discussed, Rumi’s mystical rituals have led to the emergence of a type of polyphonic brotherhood that, based on Victor W. Turner’s view, can be considered as a type of ultra-structural commu- nity, namely communitas, as being ‘between and betwixt’ two social stages (2011: 132). This ritualistic polyphonic brotherhood has a deep association with Rumi’s polyphonic and multisensory poetry in terms of the symbolic ap- proach. To put it differently, the Persian language gets a multisensory aspect in mystical literature in an intertextual relationship with other forms of art such as music (Necipoğlu 2016: 151), and this multisensory dimension adds to the intertextual feature of the Persian poetry and, in this perspective, to Rumi’s mystical poetry. Literature Review Regarding the relationship between ritual and language in Rumi’s shrine, very few studies have been conducted, and it seems that anthropological studies have not focused much on the rituals of Rumi’s shrine and its relationship with language. Thus, a review of Rumi studies reveals that the mystical and literary values of Rumi’s works are at the centre of Rumi studies. An important part of the said studies focuses on the literary values of Rumi’s works in a classical and traditional way (see Khorramshahi 2019; Samiei Gilani 2017; Shahbazi 2016; Zarinkoub 2019). At the same time, another part of these works inves- tigate Rumi’s works in a philosophical and theosophical-philosophical ap- proach, ranging from an Iranian reading (see Dinani’s commentary on the mystical sonnets of Rumi in Feizi 2018; Davari Ardakani 2005; Movahed 2018) to an interpretation based on new philosophical approaches (Naraghi 2010; Ghane’ei Kharazmi 2009; Sattari 2018). Modern theories in literature and psy- chology can sometimes be seen in the analysis of Rumi’s works (Mirzaei et al. 2017; Mohammadi and Sufi 2018). Among such works, one can mention the works of Ahmad Ketabi, who has studied such themes as leniency and peace in Rumi’s works in a comparative study from a sociological perspective, present- ing a sociological perception of Rumi’s works (see Ketabi 2014, 2015). Among the studies that have analysed Rumi’s thoughts and poems, H. A. Ghobadi e I Th nteraction between Language and Ritual in the Pilgrimage of Shabe-Arus → 121 shows the significance of literature as a connecting point to the mystical mean - ings while mystic rituals remained out of his sight. However, he has a literary approach and does not employ an anthropological view (see Ghobadi 2004). Sari (2015: 12) studied the rituals and sub-rituals associated with Rumi’s school and discussed its symbolic meanings according to the historical and cultural context. In his view, Samâ House represents the world and the whirl- ing dervishes (Samâ) indicate a movement towards God. He indicated what customs are associated with the rite of passage such as wearing a dervishes’ dresses and hats (ibid.: 8) and how such behaviours as removing the dervish cloak while doing Samâ ree fl cts purification (ibid.: 13). These rituals are ana - lysed according to divine love by scholars such as Calis-Kural Deniz (2016: 78– 100). In his analysis of the rituals, Vaziri focused on the spiritual and mystical aspects of Rumi rituals (divine and heavenly love) (Vaziri 2015). Reinhertz and Abi’l-Khayr (2001) studied the gender structure and women’s role in Rumi’s rituals and examined the leniency toward the presence of women in Rumi’s era and the subsequent strictness for their presence in Rumi’s rituals (2001). Among Persian studies, Shirin Bayani (2003) expressed a similar view and investigated Rumi’s life and the prominent position of women such as his wife, daughter, and bride. Some of these studies about rituals traced the roots of the Wedding Night ritual and, according to the spiritual meaning of death, interpreted it as a connection with God, which has an essence as Wedding Celebration (bond). Hussein (2013: 6) defined Rumi’s death, from his mystical point of view, as passing through a stage and moving away from earthly life and reaching the divine realm. Özdemir (2013) also believes that this ritual should be considered as unification with God. Halman and (1983: 6, 74) and Sari (2015: 23–29) interpreted the symbolic meanings of the dervishes’ ritu- als in Rumi’s shrine based on his approach to divine and mystical love. In her study (2019), Somayeh Karimi investigated cultural tolerance in the Wedding Night ritual in Konya from an anthropological perspective and, based on her e fi ld study and ethnological method, showed how leniency and toleration are formed as mystical rituals in the Rumi shrine. She indicated how the coexist- ence of different groups in the Wedding Night ritual objectifies such concepts as tolerance, friendship, altruism, and brotherhood. Methodology and Research Questions Since this study adopted an anthropological approach, the method used by the researcher was mainly based on anthropological methods such as participat- ing observations and deep interviews with key informants, pilgrims, and local residents in Konya, Turkey. The direct and participating observations mainly were conducted in Baba Namaki shrine, dervish house numbers 5 and 25, the Konya municipal amphitheatre, and some hotel lobbies, such as Pasha Park Hotel, where mystical ceremonies were held. At the same time, the public 122 ← Alireza Hassanzadeh and Somayeh Karimi places in Konya were also observed. e Th interviews were held with key actors and informants, such groups as managers and staff in ritual, cultural, tourism, and academic sites related to Rumi’s rituals, and semi-structured interviews with locals (residents of Konya) and Turkish, Iranian, and English-speaking pilgrims. The investigation began 15 days before the Wedding Night ritual and continued for up to 30 days ae ft r the ritual in Konya. The methodology of present study rests upon an epistemological base through a multisensory approach and perception of the topic: literature, music, food and dance. Here, this notion of ritual is in conformity with V. W. Turner’s sense of ritual as a multisensory experience (Turner 1970: 25, 36; Spickard 2017: 195). To Turner, deep comprehension of ritual depends on the perception of ritual symbols in action and practice (Spickard 2017: 195–196). Ritual as a non-verbal form has been combined with verbal forms of literature. Therefore, the present topic simultaneously needs an intertextual and inter-ritual perception (see Hassanzadeh 2013: 584–622; Kreinath 2020: 397–398) of the present topic. Without this methodological approach, ethnographic observations of key as- pects of the ritual in its different verbal and non-verbal shapes remain out of sight, such as poetry, whirling dance, music, and so on. Indeed, as Stephen Dawson and Tomoko Iwasawa argue (2001: 260–270), non-verbal awareness of ritual is tied to verbal forms of literature in this type of ritual pilgrimage. Since Edwards applied the same methodology in his study on Shakespeare pil- grims (Edwards 2005: 50–61), it is necessary to consider a holistic perspective in which all participants engaged as key actors in the ritual. The people under study are divided into several groups: a group as the carrier of lived experi- ences; the key informants as Turkish key actors of this ritual; and a group that takes part in the ritual as the pilgrims and/or tourists. It should be clear that some key actors, such as Lithuanians and Indians are present in this ritual perspective. One of the key actors in this ritual context is Lithuanian dervishes who all dressed in white shirts, are disciples under instruction of a female Sufi teacher. Three languages were applied as means of communication: Persian for interviewing Iranian people; Turkish for interviewing Turkish people; and English as a lingua franca to others. Camera, voice recorder, field notes and a map of the area were the main equipment during the field study. In terms of methodology, this anthropological research is comparable to Holmes-Rodman (2004) who has done a study in Mexican ritual pilgrimage. e k Th ey questions of this research are as follows: • What ee ff ct does the mystical context of Wedding Night ritual in Rumi shrine and Konya city have on the Persian language? • Is the main function of the Persian language in the Wedding Night ritual based on national or transnational function and role? • What is the relationship between the Persian language and other el- ements in the Wedding Night ritual such as whirling dance (Samâ), music, space and narration as ritual context? e I Th nteraction between Language and Ritual in the Pilgrimage of Shabe-Arus → 123 Field Findings: Questions about the Interaction of Ritual and Language e fir Th st concern that the researcher dealt with was the relationship between ritual and language. In fact, concerning the Wedding Night ritual, the key question that arises is what is the relationship between literature and ritual in a ceremony that belongs to a great poet and mystic? Field findings and in - terviews were used to answer this question. The first thing discovered in the interviews with the pilgrims, particularly Iranian pilgrims, was that many of the people who attended the Wedding Night ritual first read Rumi’s poems in his books and then attended his rituals in Konya, notably the Wedding Night ritual. In other words, based on what was revealed from the interviews with the pilgrims, the textual experience (literature/poetry) takes precedence over ritual experience (attendance at the ritual). Rumi is first known for his poems, and then the people’s relationship with Rumi deepens thanks to attending his ritual and shrine: this is a fusion of literature and ritual horizons and textual and contextual experiences. Thus, as it will be further discussed, a literary ac - quaintance becomes an informal membership in pilgrims as a normative and existential communitas as defined by Turner (see 2011: 132). This communi - tas, which depends on language and ritual, is experienced and sustained in Iran by attending some poetry recitals and then in Konya by attending Rumi’s rituals. This type of experience can be observed in other poets and mystics, such as Shah Nimatullah Wali and Bayazid Bastami in Mahan, Kerman, and Shahroud, Iran (Pourjavadi 2015; Sahraei and Oroujnia 2018). These groups of pilgrims who have literary and mystical inclinations gather at the poet and mystic’s shrine to play music and recite his poems: In Kerman, we go to Shah Nimatullah Wali’s shrine as well, we go there with friends and recite poems and play musical instruments. This is the climax of what makes us ecstatic. (Male, 55, from Kerman, Iran) We also have experienced the same thing in Bayazid Bastami’s shrine, where we recite poems, sing, and play musical instruments. Our dream was to come here to recite poems, play an instrument, and listen to other people’s poem recitals and music. (Male, 36, from Mashhad, Iran) I first got to know Rumi through his Persian poems, and then I immersed in the passion of his poetry and came to Konya. (Female, 49, from Tabriz, Iran) In most of the people interviewed, a family member, relative, or teacher intro- duced Rumi’s poetry to them during their childhood or adolescence: Rumi was first introduced to me by my father through the poems he recited to me. Rumi’s poetry has such messages as friendship, solidarity, and love, and Rumi’s lesson in his poems is the same lesson of humanity and friendship, which is ree fl cted in his ritual. Many people from different nations and regions all come here to achieve friendship, unity, love, peace, and ae ff ction. (Female, 49, from Tehran, Iran) 124 ← Alireza Hassanzadeh and Somayeh Karimi As a child, I read Rumi’s poems thanks to my uncle, and then I grew an interest in Rumi. (Male, 36, from Tehran, Iran) In fact, the pilgrims’ description of the type and form of their pilgrimage shows the transformation of a textual (and subjective) experience into a ritual (and objective) experience. They consider the ritual experience as comple - mentary to the textual and linguistic experience and consider it as a factor in deepening their thoughts, ideas, and emotions about Rumi and his worldview: Here, I can find a deeper and further knowledge of Rumi’s mysterious words. Rumi’s pilgrimage ritual helps us to feel the meaning of his words through rites. Here, you can find and observe the very multiplicity and unity that Rumi presents in his poems. (Female, 52, from Tehran, Iran) e c Th ommunitas and liminal definition of pilgrimage and ritual, which sepa - rates it from the formal culture and its closed normative borders, is in line with their definition of the Persian language and its function in Rumi’s ritual: The Persian language here is not merely the language of a group, it is not the language of a particular nation, but rather it is the language of love, the language of brotherhood, and the language of all nations. The language of love is the lan - guage of brotherhood, the language that everyone understands. (Female, 48, from Tabriz, Iran) The language by which knowledge can be acquired, particularly the knowledge of God, is the language that belongs to all nations. In Rumi’s poems, the Persian language becomes the language of all nations of the world. (Female, 36, from Tehran, Iran) Textual experience Subjective experience In his poetries Textual/ Ritual linguistic Experience In his ritual Experience Objective Inter-Textual Experience Experience Figure 1. Dynamics of understanding Rumi’s worldview and ontology from the viewpoint of pilgrims in Konya, Iran, e I Th nteraction between Language and Ritual in the Pilgrimage of Shabe-Arus → 125 In fact, what is revealed from the pilgrims’ experiences of visiting Rumi’s shrine on the Wedding Night ritual is how to extend a textual understanding of Rumi’s ontology toward a broad and intertextual understanding (see Figure 1). e r Th itual’s intertextual aspect adds to the multisensory dimensions of Rumi’s ontological understanding, and linguistic experience is defined with regard to ritual experience as a dependent identity: o Th se who attend here are all brothers. In the past, they recited Rumi’s poems at home, in the library, or at the university. Here, they are like the beads of a misbahah (prayer beads), and they have become brothers and sisters. (Female, 41, from Gilan, Iran) Here, I think I am like a drop in the ocean of Rumi’s poetry. (Male, 39, from Pakistan) I got to know Rumi through the translations of his poems. I come from Japan, and I was very impressed by his pilgrimage. I have a deep connection with other pilgrims. (Female, 33, from Japan) In fact, due to the importance of the polyphony of Rumi’s poetry, the ritual gives an objective form to the meanings in the language (and poetry). However, what seems very important is the emphasis on the informal aspects of Rumi’s poems and literature, which means an open form of spirituality by the pilgrims: e Th re are many languages known as the language of religion, but Persian is the language of spirituality, the language of mysticism, so that is the reason why it has become popular among all people. If this language were not a soft and flexible language, it could not produce meaning in Rumi’s poetry that everyone would love and understand. (Male, 39, from Tehran, Iran) What can be grasped in the observations and interviews is the pilgrims’ atten- tion to the transformation of a textual experience into an intertextual and con- textual experience. They compare the mentioned ritual with other rituals and consider the Persian language comprehensible in Rumi’s poetry, which adds to the depth of understanding in the Wedding Night ritual. They believe that the intangible, inner feeling associated with literature (Rumi’s poetry) makes this spirituality deductive, logical, and for this reason, they consider the Persian language in Rumi’s poetry supportive of rationality and wisdom that makes Rumi’s mysticism logical and different from superstition: At the same time, the inter-ethnic and intercultural quality of the language and ritual is highly emphasised by the pilgrims. With reference to Rumi’s poems, the argumentative-mystical principles are an integral part of the pilgrims’ experience in interacting with one another and the accounts of their presence in the Wedding Night ritual in Konya. They either recite Rumi’s poems or use them to argue about their pilgrimage iden- tity. It is based on the combination of two linguistic and ritual experiences: 126 ← Alireza Hassanzadeh and Somayeh Karimi I am about 60 years old. I used to be a dogmatic person, I mean about 40 years ago. Ae ft r I got to know Rumi, I let go of the dogma. I read his poems and I am no longer that biased person I used to be. When I came here, my thoughts and mind were further expanded. (Male, 60, from Tehran, Iran) iTh s argumentative-mystical view is also used by pilgrims about the use and function of the Persian language: e P Th ersian language is like a bridge. It brings people together in Rumi’s poetry. It does not matter where they come from. Rumi is the architect of this bridge. When he calls for a place in nowhere, and an unmarked mark, therefore his language is the meta-language. e Th Persian language is the spiritual heritage of all people who are in love. (Female, 52, from Konya) Do not look for national colours here, here nothing and no one belongs to anything. Everything is humane, universal, mystical: I see the universe as one, I seek the one. (Female, 43, from Tehran, Iran) e m Th entioned that the pilgrims emphasise the intercultural aspects of Persian language in Rumi’s poetry: Here, it does not matter where I come from; such borders are meaningless when you meet Rumi. Here, the language of poetry is the language of peace, the language of feeling. This language belongs to anyone who is closer to Rumi. This music and Samâ belong to everyone. (Female, 55, from Tabriz, Iran) I used to be a very nationalist person, but from the 1990s, when I got to know Rumi, my outlook changed. Rumi has defined humans’ relationships with other human beings based on altruism. (Male, 51, from Tehran, Iran) e fi Th eld observations of this study also confirm what was mentioned in the interviews. In Konya Municipality Cultural Complex Hall, which is the venue for one of the main events of the Wedding Night ritual, different languages and alphabets are displayed at the entrance, and the focus on plurality in unity and unity in plurality is shown by Rumi and his mystical paradigm. At the entrance of this hall, people are welcome in different languages (Figure 2). e Th Persian language has a special position in this regard because what is displayed in the Konya War Museum toward the municipal amphitheatre, where a large replica of Rumi’s and Shams Tabrizi’s books are shown, ree fl cts this. In Konya Municipality Cultural Complex Hall, in the main event of the city for the Wedding Night ritual, the ritual begins and continues in three lan- guages: Persian, English, and Turkish. It is interesting that in this event, the use of Persian and English has precedent over Turkish. The main speaker was the former head of the Turkish Ministry of Tourism and Culture, who also recited some Persian poems (Figure 3). e I Th nteraction between Language and Ritual in the Pilgrimage of Shabe-Arus → 127 Figure 2. The entrance of the venue where Rumi’s Wedding Night ritual is held at Konya Municipality Cultural Complex Hall, Konya. ©Somayeh Karimi Figure 3. e p Th resence of the Persian language during the ritual in Konya. ©Alireza Hassanzadeh 128 ← Alireza Hassanzadeh and Somayeh Karimi In dervish house numbers 5 and 25, the Persian language is one of the main languages used to recite Rumi’s poems. The Latvian band staying at the Pasha Park Hotel spoke about their belief in Rumi’s ritual and that, due to his global and humanistic thoughts, there is a universal language that transcends politi- cal boundaries: Samâ music and dance are universal languages that form the essence and structure of Rumi’s ritual. You should also see the Persian language based on the universal, humanistic, and mystical values that it expresses. (Male, 38, from Latvia, Hotel, Konya) Chelebi families known as Rumi’s descendants still live in Konya. Esin Chelebi as the head of family mentioned in his interviews that she understands Persian but cannot speak it yet intends to learn it. She considers the Persian language as the common heritage of all human beings that, beyond the national Iranian borders, invites the world to brotherhood, love, peace, and friendship. e Th vice-chancellor of Konya University also states that in the unwritten traditions of unoci ffi al education of children in Konya, the works of Rumi and Saadi Shirazi’s book (Gulistan) were taught to them. He considers the Persian language as a common heritage that creates a spiritual atmosphere in human beings’ connection and closeness. One of the signs of the mentioned atmosphere is that well-known artists such as Shahram Nazeri and other singers like Hamidreza Khojandi recite Hafez’s poems in Rumi’s Wedding Night ritual. This indicates the bond be - tween mystical horizons and mystical-polyphonic texts in the Persian lan- guage (Hafez, Rumi, Attar, etc.). Given the main forms and key patterns of pilgrims’ behaviour in Rumi’s shrine, which includes praying, reciting the Quran, reciting Rumi’s poems, and listening to literary and mystical sermons, the Persian language plays a con- necting and powerful role in the Wedding Night ritual in Rumi’s shrine and in Konya. Pilgrims recite Rumi’s poems in Persian while immersed in themselves, eyes closed, or tears rolling down their faces. In this case, the ritualistic atmos- phere transforms Rumi’s poetry from an external and textual experience into an internal and contextual-ritual experience. In fact, ritual turns poetry from a text into a lived experience (Figure 1). Dier ff ent representations of identity exist between Persian speakers’ pil - grims (Iranian, Afghan and Tajik) and those pilgrims who speak in non- Persian language. Persian speakers, mostly Iranian, find Persian poets more close to each other while recount some stories on some journey stories of Rumi from Balkh to Konya particularly his meeting with Attar (Iranian mystic poet, 1146–1221) in Nishapur city. Regardless of a mystic-transnational iden- tity among Iranian pilgrims, sometimes intercultural, inter-ritual and inter- textual experiences come into view among them. To clarify, it should be clear that the senses of transnational and national identity coexist with each other. e I Th nteraction between Language and Ritual in the Pilgrimage of Shabe-Arus → 129 Fusion of Ritual and Literary Horizons: From the Text to the Context Interviews with the people and elites of Turkish society in Konya, as well as the pilgrims in the city, expose us to other manifestations and forms of the Persian language’s function, which can be considered as the transnational role of the Persian language as a common heritage of all nations and ethnic groups in the region. This can be observed in several perspectives of the Wedding Night ritual in Konya. In the lobbies of hotels and public places, along with Samâ and music, which are among the most powerful and key elements on the Wedding Night ritual, reciting Persian poems has special importance, particu- larly among Iranians. In Rumi’s shrine, some hotel lobbies, and even restau- rants and cafes, you can see men and women reciting Rumi’s poems. Reciting Persian poems in the hotel halls around Rumi’s shrine, such as the Kaymak Hotel and Pasha Park or Cafe Hich, is accompanied by reciting Azeri and Istanbul Turkish poems, and at times a foreign tourist joins the gathering and recites the English translation of Rumi’s poetry. Meanwhile, there are banners, flags, and posters all over the city, which tell of the days of brotherhood in 2017, in three languages: Persian, Istanbul Turkish, and English, and there are even some sentences praising Konya in the Persian language. Most of the events are held with the coexistence of these three lan- guages For instance, in Pasha Park Hotel’s event, in which the Latvian band attends, a Turkish singer from Istanbul and a Persian singer attend and some university lecturers give a speech in Persian and the other foreign lecturers also recite some of Rumi’s poems in Persian language to show their knowledge of Rumi (Figure 4). Figure 4. Banners in three languages: Persian, Istanbul Turkish, and English. © Somayeh Karimi 130 ← Alireza Hassanzadeh and Somayeh Karimi One of the residents of Konya also mentions Rumi’s poem about grapes (see Zecchini 2014: 127) and believes that meaning is important here, and the Persian language expresses this meaning regardless of skin colour, race, and ethnic roots: r Th ough the Persian language, Rumi invites everyone to unity and brotherhood, and therefore, Persian is no longer the language of one nation, because love and brotherhood are the languages of all nations. Persian is the language of brother- hood. (Male, 66, from Konya, Turkey) e v Th ice-chancellor of Seljuk University (Konya) also has the same opinion: In everything Rumi has left for us, his Persian poems, rituals, Samâ, and music, he has created a legacy that makes us all brothers and sisters. Rumi’s thought and worldview are a combination of cultural facts belonging to Iranian, Turkish, Islamic, Arabic, Christian, and other cultures. In fact, Rumi’s poetry can be compared to food like Halva.…You may not like these if you eat them separately. In Rumi’s poetry, the Persian language becomes Halva that you can no longer separate the Turkish, Iranian, Christian, etc. elements. Rumi’s legacy is the legacy of friendship and love. The Persian language is also in the service of this heritage. The Persian language has been a suitable container for Rumi’s thought. In conversations with the local people of Konya, they mention books such as Saadi Shirazi’s Gulistan and Rumi’s poems in the old schools of Konya as a key part of Turkish children traditional system of education among previous generations, and this is one of the reasons for the transnational functions of the Persian language. Although the Iranian pilgrims in Konya have a textual (poetic) and contextual (ritual) relationship with the Wedding Night ritual, they emphasise the transnational aspect of the Persian language and its mysti- cal functions and role. In fact, here the mystical paradigm grants a multicultural aspect to the Persian language that is tied to friendship, tolerance, love, and altruism. Hence, a group of pilgrims believes that Rumi’s pilgrimage ritual, due to its symbolic, cultural and literary aspect, introduces us to more intellective and enlightened pilgrims and tourists: Pilgrims and tourists who come here are more educated than other tourists and pilgrims because they are already familiar with mystical concepts such as friend- ship, love, toleration, brotherhood, and equality in Rumi’s poetry. (Female, 34, pilgrim, Konya) Reciting Rumi’s books in Persian is mainly seen among Rumi’s pilgrims in his shrine during the Wedding Night ritual. Reciting the text of Rumi’s books on this time is accompanied by emotional expressions and feeling of the pilgrims that came to climax in behaviours such as crying in interior space of Rumi’s shrine. The chambers and halls around the entrance gates of Rumi’s shrine e I Th nteraction between Language and Ritual in the Pilgrimage of Shabe-Arus → 131 are also places where Rumi’s poems are recited for the attendees. In dervish house numbers 25 and 5, as well as the ceremonies held by Latvians, one of the languages that connects ritual and literature is the Persian language. In the Latvians’ event, a Persian-Kurdish singer from Kermanshah (known as H.  Khojandi), combines Rumi and Hafez’s poems with Iranian music and sings, and the Turkish singer accompanies him. In the meantime, the female and male dervishes dressed in special white clothes start Samâ. In house numbers 25 and 5, where singing, playing mystical music, and Samâ during the Wedding Night are common, the Persian language through Rumi’s poems have a specific and mystical significance for Iranians and non- Iranians and deepen the pilgrims’ mystical atmosphere and experience. e Th transcendental and unworldly adsorbent symbolism in the cultural and mystical context of Konya, particularly during the rituals such as the Wedding Night ritual, grants a transnational significance to all the elements in the ritual. iTh s can be seen in the use of other elements such as music and narration. e u Th se of Arabic (and Quranic) terms that have a unifying and intercultural aspect (for instance, the famous Islamic phrase, ‘there is no God but Allah’, lit. La Ilaha Ila Allah) can also be understood in this context. Here one can point out the fluid identity and polyphony of the attendees in the Wedding Night ritual (Hassanzadeh 2014). The Interaction between the Persian Language and Other Key Elements: Narrative, Music, and Samâ As explained, one of the characteristics of the mystical context is to expand the significance and transcend all the elements present in the ritual or are related to its symbolic system. The researchers examined some of these key elements including narratives, naming, music, and Samâ. In the accounts told by the local people of Konya, two narratives can ree fl ct the transcendental nature of the Persian language in elevating the meaning. As observed in connection with the Persian language, the mystical context in Rumi’s ritual elevates the national role of the Persian language to ontological (transnational) role. The accounts told by the people of Konya, Baba Namaki or AtesBaz-i Veli Turbesi (Rumi’s close friend and disciple as well as the chef of his house and school) are worth considering. Food rituals and their mystic rites enjoy a significant status and rich back - grounds in Konya mystic shrines such as Baba Namaki and Baba Tavous. Salt plays a mystic role in these tombs. As an example, Baba Namaki has a shrine on the outskirts of Konya which is oe ft n visited by the people of Konya (and other cities of Turkey) as well as Iran. The ritual behaviour in this shrine has an intercultural and transnational significance and highlights the culture of pilgrimage in Konya. Most Iranians put salt in a small, rectangular plastic 132 ← Alireza Hassanzadeh and Somayeh Karimi packet and distribute it among the people in the shrine. The locals in Konya (and Turkey) take these small packets of salt home and believe that the salt would bring them wealth, blessings, and health. For the people of the Middle East, salt is a symbol of life and blessing and a repellent of calamity and death (see Kuhn 2013: 83). The mystical context of the Wedding Night ritual is one of the best ex - amples of a multisensory atmosphere in which ritual and literature (Persian language) are linked. In other perspectives of Iranian culture, in such rituals as Chaharshanbe Suri, Yalda, and Tirgân, one can observe the link between na- tional (Hafez, Rumi, and Ferdowsi) and local literature (Amir Pazevari, Baba Tahir, Fayez Dashtestani, Sharafshah Gilani, etc.). Compared to Rumi’s poems, these poems are used and recited either be- cause of their narrative values in the Yalda ritual (Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh) or because of their interpretable and hermeneutic aspect, which involves a cycle of significance and adapting it to individuals’ lives (poems of Hafez). Indeed, in this regard, from the combination of ritual and poetry, we have observed stories and legends that have been told about these poets among the people, stories of Rumi, Hafez, Ferdowsi, Saadi Shirazi, Sharafshah, and Fayez that are narrated as legends (see Hassanzadeh 2002). What makes the combination of poetry and literature different in the Wedding Night ritual is first the pilgrim’s movement from a literary text (ac - quaintance with Rumi’s poetry and interest in it) to the ritual in his shrine and monument. In this case, the textual experience becomes a ritual experience and according to the words of the attendees in the ritual, the objective experi- ence becomes an inner experience. In the movement from textual experience toward ritual experience, an in- tertextual event occurs. According to Julia Kristeva (2002: 48), in defining the intertextual situation, contextual elements such as gender and ethnicity play an important role in the creation and interpretation of the different and symbolic significance of a text (see Giere 2009: 3; Litwak 2005: 44–47; Todorov 1984: 60). For instance, the clothing of women who use Rumi’s poems on their headscarves can show the intertextual significance of Rumi’s poetry in the Wedding Night ritual, and this shows the strategy of Iranian women in defining their identity through their clothing (Hoodfar 2012: 191–193). At the same time, the multisensory aspect of the ritual, which appears specifically in the combination of music and poetry, strengthens the mentioned intertex- tuality. According to the interviewees, who attend the Wedding Night ritual as pilgrims to Rumi’s shrine, they deepen the mystical understanding of his poetry by attending Rumi’s ritual and shrine. Moreover, the important point is the modified role and function of the Persian language in a new context in which it enters. If we consider literature merely as a literary masterpiece within a country like Iran (and other Persian-speaking countries such as Afghanistan and Tajikistan), it is praised as a product of Persian cross-cultural civilisation and creativity. e I Th nteraction between Language and Ritual in the Pilgrimage of Shabe-Arus → 133 Here, the context of language understanding is a nationalist context that makes Iranians, as one of the main speakers of Persian as a mother tongue, aware of the cultural, civilisational, and literary values hidden in their home- land and their national language. However, the journey of the Persian language from the national context to the mystical context in another land grants a dif- ferent significance to the Persian language from the viewpoint of the pilgrims and the host society. The language is not merely the language of an ethnic or national group but a mystical language that contains transnational sig- nificance. This language, which is designated by pilgrims and Turkish people, particularly the people of Konya, as the language of love and equality, friend- ship, brotherhood, and so forth, has a transnational function and role in this regard. This language has become a bridge, a connecting point of different ethnic groups and nations. According to Rumi, this language is devoid of the nationalist point of view, which creates ethnic, linguistic, racial, and cultural boundaries. This function of the Persian language is in line with the function of other key elements of the Wedding Night ritual such as music and dance. e p Th ilgrims and the people of Konya consider all the elements of the Wedding Night ritual to be intercultural/transnational and common elements. Along with theories such as the Persian Belt proposed by Changiz Pahlavan (2003, 2011, 2012; also see Karimi 2014), one should consider the transnational as- pects of Persian as a language that ree fl cts the deepest mystical experiences of different nations. This indicates the polyphony of the Persian language in its mystical works. This polyphony, as Bakhtin (1984, 2013) emphasises as a key feature of ritual (carnival) in combination with literature and language (Rabelais and Dostoevsky), has found another destiny in the Persian language. In Rumi’s ritual, along with the carnival and grotesque literature, mystical lit- erature in the works of such poets as Hafez and Rumi has a polyphonic aspect and is associated with polyphonic rituals in Iran and various countries such as Turkey (Walbridge 2001: 58). This feature not only does not diminish the validity of the Persian language but also reveals its universal literary values in the perspective of mystical approach and shows that the Persian language in its mystical context is also universal and polyphonic. This fact, of course, is not limited to Konya and should be studied in other parts of the world by examining the rituals of Abdul-Qādir Bidel in India (Olszewska 2015: 54–53). u Th s, rather than relying more on historical data such as the prevalence of the Persian language in the Seljuk era in the Ottoman Empire (Romer 2010: 322; Wirtz 2017: 101), this study emphasised the field observations of the contem - porary vital role of the Persian language in its mystical context; a language that combines with the national rituals of countries, such as Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan, not only in rituals such as Nowruz but also in rituals such as the mystical Wedding Night ritual in Konya, revealing the connection between Persian ritual and literature and language and mysticism. The Persian language is linked to the ritual and indigenous systems of Konya and other pilgrims from other parts of the world throughout history. 134 ← Alireza Hassanzadeh and Somayeh Karimi In this mystic context, the role of the Persian language that has emerged in a fusion of literary and ritual horizons, which leads us to an important form of identity: the mystical-polyphonic brotherhood of identity in Rumi pilgrimage. e m Th ystical-polyphonic brotherhood of identity refers to what Turner (1970: 50) discusses as multi-vocality while it is close to what M. Bakhtin (2006: 428) poses as heteroglossia (Renfrew 2015:98–111). In this case, mystic multi- vocality context replaces the polyphonic nature of carnival: mystic hetero glossia versus carnival heteroglossia. However, the mystical-polyphonic brotherhood of identity can be known as an upward liminality in this context as a holy re- versal of norms and a mystic liminality (see Hassanzadeh 2014). Accordingly, some key features of rigid borders are meaningless, such as race, ethnicity, gender and nationality. Due to the notion of multi-vocality, all groups who are present in the scene of this ritual create ritual meanings and roles. They find a strong tie to each other as a related identity while representing their different interpretation and meaning making roles. Persian mystic literature has been transmitted to other cultural literary traditions including themes, motifs and tales (Seyed-Gohrab 2012: 10–11). Persian language that owns a mystic literature transcends national borders and enter into different cultural contexts (Soheili 2017: 42, 6–9). Soheili (ibid.: 7) believes in another area in which the ‘creative aspect of language use’ and its associated concepts of freedom and unboundedness play a central role. He argues that this mystical language functions in distinguishable ways for many Persian mystic poets or Sufis belonging to various branches, such as theosophical, theopathetic and theurgic. This mystic language connects in- siders to outsides through a transcendental meaning and messages (ibid.). As such, as this ethnographic research confirms, rituals convey this message to Persianate countries (Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan). As Murat Umut Inan (2019: 75–92) indicates, this mystic role of the Persian language results in a lingua franca that makes some elements, such as ethnicity, race and national- ity, meaningless. The Wedding Night ritual is tied to a transnational meaning of cultural symbolism. This symbolism can be found in the polyphonic- mystic Persian literature that has led to a maturity of the polyphonic-mystic brother- hood through the non-verbal functions of rituals. This corresponds to the historical role of pilgrimage culture in Iran and neighbouring countries (Khosronejad 2012). Conclusion e P Th ersian language finds a strong intercultural feature in the mystical context of the Wedding Night ritual, which is the product of the power of polyphony and depth and the symbolic and ontological broadness of Rumi’s thoughts. The role and function of the Persian language find a transnational role in countries that use it as their mother and official language (Iran, Tajikistan, e I Th nteraction between Language and Ritual in the Pilgrimage of Shabe-Arus → 135 and Afghanistan). This transnational role is mainly due to its mystical content, which through such concepts as love, brotherhood, friendship, unity, empathy, ae ff ction, peace and tolerance depicts an identity beyond geographical, ethnic, racial, and local boundaries. Thus, it should be noted that the Persian language has two national functions within its borders and another transnational role that is manifested in the mystical context of the poetry of such poets like Rumi. e Th mystical context of such rituals as the Wedding Night and the symbolic system in Rumi’s mystical poems grant a transnational status to the Persian language and make it the language of all nations and people. Accordingly, thanks to its deep concepts, such as love, friendship, equality, and empathy, in the mystical context of Rumi’s poems, the Persian language can be considered as a connecting point of ethnic groups and nations all over the world. Alireza Hassanzadeh is a faculty member at Anthropological Research Center/ Cultural Heritage and Tourism Research Institute. He has been director of this Institute since 2014. He got his PhD in anthropology from Goethe University in 2013. Some of his published books include: Folk Narratives as Lived Experience (Baz Publication, 2002); Woman and Culture: Commemoration of Margaret Mead’s 100th Birthday (Ney Publication, 2003) as editor; Rituality and Normativity (Amsterdam University Press 2013); Iranian Children and Eastern and Western Fairy Tales (Aa fk r Publication, 2016); and Culture in the Shadow of the Covid 19 Pandemic (Culture, Art and Communication Research Center, 2022) as editor. His novels have been inspired by Iranian folk cultures in works such as Tehran, People and Crows (Ketabsarye Nik Publication 2017), the King of Nader and the Gypsy Girl from India (Morvarid Publication 2019), Massacre of Fairies (Morvarid Publication 2020), Tragedy of Being a Donkey (Morvarid Publication 2020), and e S Th ecret of the Death of the Poet of Gypsies: Federico García Lorca (Morvarid Publication, in press, 2023). Email: a.hasanzadeh@richt.ir Somayeh Karimi is assistant professor at the Institute for Humanities and Cultural Studies. She is interested in urban anthropology, ethnic studies and cultural tolerance. Among her publications are: ‘An Anthropological Approach to Ecological Issues’ in The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Environmental Sustainability, 17(1), 34–44 (2021); ‘Tolerance and Pilgrimage: e E Th xperience of Tolerance at Mevlana Jalal Ad-Din Rumi Mausoleum’ in Biquarterly Journal of Sociology of Social Institutions, 12, 29–50 (2019); ‘e Th Challenge of Discourses: Normative Orders and Ethnicity’ in International Journal of the Humanities, 9(8), 83–94 (2011); Ethnicity and Normativity, Amsterdam University Press (2013). Email: s.karimi@gmail.com 136 ← Alireza Hassanzadeh and Somayeh Karimi References Bakhtin, M. (1984), Rabelais and His World, (trans.) H. Iswolsky (Bloomington: Indi- ana University Press). Bakhtin, M. 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Journal

Anthropology of the Middle EastBerghahn Books

Published: Dec 1, 2022

Keywords: mystical context; mystical/polyphonic brotherhood; Persian language; transnational role of the ritual; wedding night

References