Seyid Riza by the fire place

While Dilan was having breakfast with the Alevi-Kurdish community leaders, she felt a little disturbance as the cold air swiftly crossed over her short hair and hit the ice shield mushroomed on the glass window. As she felt the shivering, once again she felt herself lucky that she was wearing that wool sweater she bought last week. 

As the Kurdish leaders were speaking, she remembered one of those moments…when she was a kid…her grand father used to tell her this very story, several times over and over by the fire place, almost 40 years ago.

She thought it was very important to her grand father. He wanted Dilan, this six year old, smart girl, to know and remember it. It certainly was very important to him, so let me share this story also with you. 

It was not too long ago, just 40 years ago. She was sitting by the “soba”, she had freshly squeezed goat milk in the glass, some warm flat bread, butter, and fresh goat cheese on a plate. She mixed the goat cheese with butter and rolled the combination with the flat bread and grabbed the whole thing in her hand. This was her secret dish, one of her favorite. Simple but quite creative for a six year old. 

“Not too long ago, my dear, fire was constituted the principal source of energy for all the mankind. For many moons, men and women gathered by the fire, shared laughs, stories, and food…” 

As her grand father was telling his story, her grand mother, Naima was throwing the perfectly carved wood pieces into the oven. The red flames poured out of the stove were spreading into the air almost causing a hazard for them. 

“Naima, you are going to burn us all. You don’t want to mourn after me, do you?”

A familiar smile appeared on Naima’s face; a smile communicating her shyness blended with her guilt. 

“Naima, you always do this. I can’t even remember the beginning of the story now.” 

“Ok. Let me start one more time my little daughter.” 

“Not too long ago, fire was constituted the principal source of energy for all the mankind. For many moons, men and women gathered by the fire, shared laughs, stories, and food. 

“So in this village, in Dersim, a Alevi Dede secretly builds his vision for his followers. His vision one day urges him to call all the villagers to a secret place by the mountains. He builds a sacred house and invites all walks of people to this meeting- believers, non believers, lovers, fighters, old, and the young. In the night, he flares up a grand fire on top of the Dersim mountains. Fire becomes so big and full of light that no one dares to hide anything from the Pir. Dede encourages every person to get together around the fire. Once they all arrive at the fire place, Dede starts giving his famous and impressive speech.” 

“He tells the villagers that they should join him in the Alevi rituals. He tells them that the rituals will help the people to have stronger kids, stronger families, and stronger lives. So, Dede commences the fire dance. That night they all perform many different kinds of dances.  Some faint and fell, some are energized and hear the voices of the gods, some feel peace, and some find the strength. Year after year, they honored this Fire Dance, and they dance until all are fainted and have visions.” 

“At one of these nights, their dances get so passionate, their concentration level so intensified, their roarings get so laud, their dances create so much wind and turbulence, and their hearts pair with one another so magically that suddenly almost all the participating villagers fell free.” 

“They fell free of the worldly things, they felt free of their guilt, they felt free of their daily pleasures, they felt free of their obligations, and they felt free of daily distractions. They felt the wholesomeness and oneness of life. They were closer to one another, closer to the self, and as they felt closer to the self, they became enlightened.” 

“They repeated this ritual, once every week, and each week they were brought closer to the heart of oneness of life diminishing the superficial pleasures of the life. And their rituals progressed with their understanding of the wholesomeness.” 

“They called the tribe leader “Sheikh Riza”. The Sheik represented the sun and the villagers danced around the fire represented the planets. Later on, the dancers found it mystical to spin to the sounds of a flute and the magical notes of the flute transformed their celebrations to a Zikr.” 

As the grand father carried the conversation, Dilan, now a grown up woman, looked over to the other side of the street from the window. It was a very cold and bitter morning; snow was falling to the sidewalks and shielding it from the sunlight.


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