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Kashfi Halford is a film maker, camerawoman, photographer and Drone/UAV pilot. Clients include the BBC, Al Jazeera, The Guardian and the Times.

Photo stories

In a whirl - at the Rumi festival in Konya for the Guardian

Kashfi Halford

Since the death of Jalaluddin Rumi in 1273, the Mevlevi order has commemorated his life. Kashfi Halford captures the celebrations and performances all over the Turkish city during the 10-day festival.

See the full Guardian story here

The 13th-century Sufi poet Jalaluddin Rumi (Mevlâna) is all but considered a saint. One of the world’s great mystic philosophers, his poetry and religious writings are among the most beloved and respected in Islam and well beyond.

In a time of increasing tension in the region the festival is a beacon of hope for culture and freedom. Rumi was a scholar, who taught peace, love and tolerance, and eventually gained a large following.

"Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshipper, lover of leaving. It doesn't matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair."  My favourite Rumi quote

Only a few hundred miles from the borders of war-torn Syria, the festival in the Anatolian city of Konya brings together over a million people from all over the world to celebrate Rumi’s work, his life and ultimately his death – also known as his union with god. The day of his death is referred to as his wedding night.

The Sema

Sema is the inspiration of Rumi as well as a part of Turkish custom, history, beliefs and culture. The Sema ceremony represents a mystical journey of man's spiritual ascent through mind and love to perfection.

The whirling dervishes prepare for the Sema ceremony. The headdress represents the ego's tombstone, the white skirt the ego's shroud.

"I am a third-generation whirling dervish. I have been whirling since I was 14 years old. Mevlâna is a great poet and scholar who brought light to humanity. The Mathnawi books are not just for Muslims, they are for everyone and they take you on a voyage into your heart."   Mithat Ozcakil

"I am a third-generation whirling dervish. I have been whirling since I was 14 years old. Mevlâna is a great poet and scholar who brought light to humanity. The Mathnawi books are not just for Muslims, they are for everyone and they take you on a voyage into your heart."   Mithat Ozcakil

Fahri Ozcakil, the Dede – or head – of the whirling Dervishes and father of Mithat, gently turning in the centre of the other whirling dervishes

Fahri Ozcakil, the Dede – or head – of the whirling Dervishes and father of Mithat, gently turning in the centre of the other whirling dervishes

The dervish is spiritually born to the truth: by removing the black cloak, he advances to spiritual maturity through the stages of the Sema.

A man glass-blowing whirling dervishes at the Sema ceremony

A man glass-blowing whirling dervishes at the Sema ceremony

Mevlana's mausoleum

The decree of 6 April 1926 confirmed that the mausoleum and the dervish lodge (Dergah) were to be turned into a museum. The museum opened on 2 March 1927. In 1954 it was renamed Mevlâna Museum.

The sarcophagus of Mevlâna is located under the green dome, or Kibab'ulaktab. It is covered with brocade, embroidered in gold with verses from the Koran. This, and all other covers, was a gift from Sultan Abdul Hamid II in 1894.

The actual burial chamber is located below the dome. Next to Mevlâna's sarcophagus are several others, including the sarcophagi of his father Bahaeddin Veled and his son Sultan Veled.

The tomb of Shams-i-Tabrizi, Mevlâna's most important teacher, which is visited almost as much as Mevlâna's tomb.

The tomb of Shams-i-Tabrizi, Mevlâna's most important teacher, which is visited almost as much as Mevlâna's tomb.

Gathering for music

After the Sema people come together at one of the many Dargahs in Konya to do Zikrs and sing, people from many different countries gather here.

"I am a descendent of Rumi from my mother's side. I have studied all different religions and they all have the same meditation."       Prof. Dr. Waliyuddin Fakir-e Bidar Balhi-Rumi

"I am a descendent of Rumi from my mother's side. I have studied all different religions and they all have the same meditation."       Prof. Dr. Waliyuddin Fakir-e Bidar Balhi-Rumi

The desert festival in Jaisalmer

Kashfi Halford

The desert festival is held annually in the beautiful golden city of Jaisalmer on the edge of the great Thar desert in the state of Rajasthan, India. It is a 3 day cultural festival extravaganza, exhibiting the best of this remote desert city.

The festival commences with a huge ceremonial street parade through the city, known locally as Shobha Yatra, women in beautiful colourful clothes, Rajputs and other clans atop fancy decorated camels, dress in traditional attire, dancing women, with whirling dresses, men on stilts, it's a spectacle to behold.

Men carrying swords atop camels from different clans arrive at the Shahid Poonam Singh stadium, which is one of the main venues of the festival.

At the stadium several contests get under way, one of them for 'Mr Desert' where men are judged on their traditional attire, their turbans and most importantly their mustache!

A desert festival wouldn't be complete without a game of camel polo... apparently the Jaisalmer breed of camel is known for it's speed and agility. The polo club and the border security force compete in a tough match. Many of the camels look exhausted after the game, with some literally collapsing to the floor and refusing to get up.

The annual camel race is a big event...

The sun goes down on the final day, and the local music begins, with musicians singing of romance and tragedy of years gone by.

The festival comes to an end on the third day when it coincides with the full moon, known as Poornima in Sanskrit. Families relax in the dunes, enjoying camel rides and chatter.