PARIS (AFP) – One of the world’s few female whirling dervishes, Rana Gorgani has opened up Sufism to a wider audience, and is now making surprising spiritual connections over Zoom thanks to the pandemic.
French-Iranian Gorgani, 37, used to think of whirling – a sort of “moving meditation” through which Sufis seek to commune with the divine – as something that should remain behind closed doors.
Despite growing up in France, she was initiated into the practice while visiting Iran, a place where Sufis often face persecution by the authorities and dancing in general is frowned upon.
She had never intended to perform the whirling in public – that was something normally reserved for men.
But a decade ago, she decided she wanted to share its beauty with a festival audience in Montpellier.
“After some minutes, I panicked and stopped for a few seconds. It felt like I was breaking some rule,” she recalled. “But I started turning again, and…