The Sufi mystic Mevlana Muhammad Jelaluddin Rumi is commemorated every December in the Central Anatolian province of Konya, where his tomb is located.

But ?stanbul was also home to a commemoration ceremony for Rumi over the weekend, marking the first time the cultural capital of Turkey hosted the Sufi event that attracts spectators from around the world annually.

The ?stanbul event, held two days ahead of the Dec. 17 ceremony in Konya, drew thousands to the Ülker Sports Arena on Saturday, Turkish news agencies reported.

A joint effort between the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the Greater ?stanbul Metropolitan Municipality, the ?stanbul ceremony was held due to strong turnout for ceremonies in Konya, the Anatolia news agency reported Saturday.

The commemorations mark the anniversary of the death of Rumi 739 years ago, on Dec. 17, 1273.

In the ?stanbul ceremony, famous Turkish stage actor-director Kenan I??k recited selected verses from the “Mesnevi,” Rumi’s world-famous spiritual poems about divine love, to Sufi tunes performed by Yücel Arzen and his orchestra. The 45-minute recital was followed by a Sufi music concert by Sami Savni Özer. The ceremony culminated with a sema performance, the world-famous Sufi whirling dervish ritual, conducted by the Marmara Turkish Music Ensemble. ?stanbul Today’s Zaman with wires.