College hosted an important celebration of interfaith dialogue
with a Sufi perspective on Sunday October 2nd. Over 200 people
of all faiths and spiritual traditions joined in the message
of hope and beauty offered through film, music, poetry, dance,
dialogue, performance and much more. The event was presented
by The Philadelphia Society for Art, Literature & Music in
Association with The Global Dialogue Institute at Haverford College
and The Middle East Center of The University of Pennsylvania.
The highlight of this festive, multi-media symposium was the
East Coast premiere of "Rumi-Turning Ecstatic", a new
film documenting one woman's odyssey of spiritual awakening,
with a special guest appearance by the film's star and co-producer,
Tina Petrova. Jelaluddin Rumi was a Persian Sufi mystic from
the 13th century whose inspired poetry is read widely around
the world, and now even outsells Shakespeare in the United States.
Rumi spoke at great length about the singular unity of the human
family, and although he was a devout Muslim, embraced all people
Live musical performances included heart-opening original “new-grass” music
by the amazing “Illumination Band” from their new
CD of songs based on the poetry of Rumi. Master musicians, Aliyar
and Levent Firat from Turkey performed soul-stirring “Ilahis” or
sacred music on traditional Middle Eastern instruments. Sheikha
Ayesha Jeanne Lauenborg lead participants from the audience
in “Dances of Universal Peace.” Deepak Kumar sang
the songs of Kabir accompanied by harmonium, tabla and flute.
Singer/songwriter, Näthan Gangadean performed original contemporary devotional
love songs as well.
Leading voices for personal transformation and global responsibility
addressed essential human unity against the backdrop of religious
strife and hostility. A new dialogue was opened to introduce
and explore the gentle path of Sufism found within moderate Islam
and celebrate the common threads of hope and beauty that are
at the foundation of the Abrahamic Religions of Christianity,
Judaism and Islam. The Sufi perspective places emphasis the unifying
message of these great faith traditions – wisdom, love,
compassion and harmony. The plenary keynote address was delivered
by Jonathan Granoff, Esq., President of the global Security Institute
and respected advocate for world peace, who spoke on the principles
of essential unity and the common wealth entrusted to humankind.
Professor Ashok Gangadean, Ph.D., introduced Deep
Dialogue as a means to establish authentic communication
and shared understanding between individuals and groups, with
a focus on the Semitic great faith traditions. He lead
the principal session in deep dialogue with Imam Muhammad Abdur-Razzaq
of the Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Fellowship, Rabbi Marcia Prager of
Temple P’nai Or and the Rev. Hank Galganowicz of
Holy Innocents St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. The divergent
streams of religious thought were traced back to a common source,
the well-spring that forms the spiritual ground of being for
the panel sought to establish a position of a priori understanding
from which to seek a broader unity with our fellow man. The
experience helped people to come to a deeper understanding
and appreciation of the diversity of spiritual expression that
informs our lives in so many ways, enriching our community,
and furthering efforts to create inner as well as outer peace.
Los Angeles based author and noted spiritual teacher, Dr. Kabir
Helminski addressed the need for conscious social and political
transformation through the awakened human heart. Helminski and
his wife Camille, lead a “Zikr” (remembrance
of God ceremony) adapted for a western audience’s participation.
A deeply moving performance of turning by the “Whirling
Dervishes” transported the audience to the mystic realms
of ancient Anatolia.
Celebrated artist and author, Michael Green was on hand
for the exciting book release and signing of "One Song," the
long awaited sequel to "The Illuminated Rumi", a New
York Times top-ten best seller.
Noted poet, Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore read (and performed)
from his new books "Mars and Beyond", and "Laughing
Buddha Weeping Sufi."
An open bazaar offered original paintings and artwork by Amira
Dvorah and Michael Green, rugs and tapestries from Kashmir Dream,
books of the authors by Barnes and Noble, CDs by the musical artists,
handcrafts by Ayesha, with gourmet vegetarian/kosher Chinese food,
by Singapore Restaurant served throughout
the event as well.
Voices from the Well of Peace will become an annual event that
highlights and celebrates the resonance of the divine found within
each of the world's religions and sacred traditions.
View the slide show of the event
"Rumi - Turning Ecstatic"
supported the production of this docu-drama
by actress/producer Tina Petrova, and producer Steven Roloff
for Vision TV, by funding the work produced by VirtuaLux Digital
film was broadcast by the Canadian Broacast Corporation, and
is now in international distribution and is available on DVD.
VirtuaLux designed the film's widely acclaimed
website, www.rumi-turningecstatic.com, provided graphic design
and artwork, and produced and recorded original music for the