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Round and Round and Round They Go!
November 17, 1999

Do you pray? Do your friends? Maybe you have an idea of what praying is: sitting in church or temple, bowing on the floor or even talking to God before you go to bed. Did you know there are people who pray by dancing to really good music?

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The whirling dervishes
Ring around the rosies...NOT!
It's true! Way over in Egypt there's a group of old men called the Al Tannoura dance troupe. They wear colorful skirts and dance to the beat of drums and other neat instruments. When the music gets going, they do too!

One dancer stays in the middle, pretending to be the sun. Other dancers, who are supposed to be planets and seasons, dance around him. They all spin themselves in circles, around and around and around until they can't go any faster!

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From prayer comes music
The Sema ritual
Jammin' on the cymbals
Why do they do this? They belong to a very old religion called Sufism, which for hundreds of years has taught that people don't have to look in a church or in the Bible to find God. Sufis believe that God is everywhere, and that you can be close to God doing almost anything.

When the dancers turn and turn, they believe they're turning toward God. The faster they go, the closer they think they're getting.

How do you think dancing like that would make you feel? Probably pretty dizzy!


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