Sema etmek ( for a mevlevi dervish to whirl ) is accepted as the symbol of the mevlevi teachings and practices, which became a dervish order after the death of Mevlana. The whirling dance performances , connected to certain rules and united with music with the arrangements made, in time assumed the status of a ceremony among the Mevlevis. It is rumored that Mevlana became enraptured and whirled with the rhythm of the pounding of the hammers he heard when passing in front of the shop of Jeweler Selahaddin, whom he had chosen as his disciple after Şems from Tabriz was lost.
The place where the whirling dance is performed is called the ‘’ Semahane’’. The circular form of the Semahane symbolizes the universe. In the Mevlevi order the red pelt of the sheikh is considered to be office of Mevlana. Just as the sky red in the evening when the Sun sets. Mevalana also died when the sun set. The red color of the pelt describes ‘’union’’ that is reunion with God. The color of the pelt on those who newly entered the Mevlevi order sit is black. Black is the color of colorlessness. It represents union. It harbors all of the colors within it. The dervish acquires the right to sit on a white pelt when he becomes informed and make progress. The bad habits of the mankind , that is headdress represents the tombstone of the body, the wide-skirted garment represents shroud of the body, and jacket worn on top represents the body in the Semazens ( Mevlevis who perform the whirling dance ) The Semazens removed their jacket and thus take step toward spiritual cleanliness when they start to perform the whirling dance. The stance of the semazens with crossed arms express the unity of the God. The Semazens embrace the universe with their heart, when they open their arms to both sides and turn from right to left. They take from God with their right arms which are turned to sky and distribute to the people with their left arms which are turned to the earth.
The soul who newly starts the whirling dance instruction, first of all, comes next to the ‘’ whirling dance instruction nail’’ or the whirling practice board with bare feet and the kisses nail. Next, he pours some salt on the place where the nail is located to learn it well between his fingers and to prevent there being wounds. Subsequently, he gets up and places the instruction nail between his big toe and toe next to it on the left foot. The salt poured also provides for the easy lifting of the left foot during the whirling.. The left foot of the semazen is called ‘’mainstay’’ and right foot is called ‘’wheel’’. The left foot called mainstay is not lifted at all and the knee is not bent at all. The semazens turn their bodies by keeping their left feet fixed and turn their bodies. This is called ‘’ wheel’’ The new student make 180 degree turns. At later stages the semazen make 360 decree turns.