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The Headbanging Dervishes of Eastern Kurdistan

Recent events in Iran have culminated in the arrests of dozens of Sufi ascetics (referred to as dervish) who are protesting the unlawful imprisonment of thousands of Iranian citizens who took part in anti-government demonstrations. Despite the secrecy surrounding their order, dervishes practice living in extreme poverty while taking part in meditation, chanting, and dancing rituals that are closely related to mysticism and spirituality. Unfortunately, persecution of Sufis is an institutional problem in most Middle Eastern countries due to their vocal opposition to oppression of any kind. The footage below illustrates one such ritual from the Kurdistan province of Iran:

 

 

But perhaps the most striking element of the ritual above is the headbanging motion with which the dervishes enter a trance-like state. The images below were captured by photographer Kaveh Golestan at a similar ceremony:

 

 

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