Something really not to miss around Khartoum is the gathering of the Whirling Dervishes at the Hamed al Nil mosque every Friday until the sun goes down. This Sufi order gathers together in the cemetery around the mosque to sing, chant and whirl in the dust wearing colorful patchwork clothes. Everyone stands in a huge circle that grows increasingly large as more and more people show up.
You’ve got to watch the video to get a sense of the action and the energy of the crowd (I have a couple more below as well).
The guy pictured below was an interesting fellow. He was wandering around with a delirious grin on his face, but what attracted our attention was his feet. They were like rubber. I know that sounds strange, but they were sort of bouncing and dragging along like they didn’t belong to him. If you look at the picture you can sort of get a sense of what I mean.
These guys can whirl around for hours.
And even the kids get in on the act – caught up in the spirit of things…
Don’t try standing in the front row if you’re a woman though. We discovered this when a militant young man shoved my Italian back and yanked a startled Sudanese man and me forward so that we were standing in front of her.
It is not unusual for believers in the crowd to suddenly become carried away with emotion and break into the circle to have a whirl (or whatever else they fancy) themselves. So, you can see all sorts of people dancing around in the circle.
When the festivities start to wind down (when the sun sets), you can wander around the mosque and/or stop to have a cup of tea or coffee from the numerous merchants on the grounds to serve exactly that desire.
Such as this man, pouring a cup of tea for me.
As we were leaving, these girls stopped us for an interview. You don’t get many tourists in Sudan…
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