Turkmens with their special cloths and customs are the symbol of Iran’s nature in Golestan province and Turkmen Sahra. Zekre Khanjar is the most famous and noble dance among the Turkmen’s dances and songs with a philosophical root in the ethnic beliefs, culture and religion of the people in this region remained from the past. Zekre Khanjar is a conceptual and spiritual ritual which is held in special time for thanksgiving and staying away from disaster. This dance was run for protection from natural disasters, sickness or in happy ceremonies and also at the times when the fertile lands were found for the livestock of Turkmen with the presence of all the locals. The orison were completely epic in wartime and the ritual ceremony was run with valiantly movements to send the fighters to the battle or before hunting for refreshing the soldiers and nowadays, the dirk (Khanjar) in the hand of songster is a symbol of that era.
Turkmen dance events
Zekre Khanjar is done in different cities of Golestan province such as Bandar Turkmen, Gomishan, Gonbad, Kalaleh and Aq Qala in ceremonies and different national and religious holidays, wedding parties and Hennabandan (a party before the wedding night), Aq Ash or Aq Qoeein celebration (a ceremony held by Turkmen when the age of someone reachs 63 that is equal to the age of prophet), Hajj feast, khatm al-Quran (reading the whole Quran from the beginning to the end), baby’s birth, circumcision ceremony and the time to set up the pavilions. In fact, this dance is an artistic,martial and benedictory show with coordinated and tunable movements that is performed by a group of men with local clothes, long red garment, white wool hat, leather boot, shawl and dirk on the waist, has a worship form as a mystical perception inspired by the Sufi’s feeling.
This dance is similar to the dance of Naqshbandi Dervishes and the Porkhani or Porikhani ritual which was done to treat the mental illness in this region in the past. Zekr-e Khanjar was also common with the name of "Gosh-va-Pari" among the Turkmen women. In performing this ritual dance, usually 4, 6, 8 or 10 persons as "Chorus" stand in two rows facing each other and they are responsible for the rhythmic movements. The song they sing during the dance has a regular rhythm resonating an epic music in the environment. Someone who is called "Porkhan" or songster known as "Baqshi" or "Bakhshi" in addition to the leadership of group while playing Dutar is present beside the Chorus in the group and sings the starter sonnet which is a Mystically one with a warm and lyrical voice in the name of God and the name of Imams and the other steps of Zekre Khanjar continue with the help of God.
Treat the Mental illness
Since the Zekre Khanjar ritual ceremony was sometimes performed with the aim of mental and physical patients' treatment,"Porkhan" was prayed for the patients and requested their health from the God. After singing the sonnet by Porkhan, the show starts by raising both hands toward the sky side in the prayer gesture and telling the Amen; the Chorus say "Hoo" (him) deeply (means Ya Hoo, a sound for calling God in Islamic Sufis) after its leader's point.
Then they bring down their hands from the above of chest to the waist line trying to transfer the internal energy to the hands and then to the ground in later movements. The philosophy of this movement is symbolizing the creation of man from the soil. The present people stand in front of each other, by repeating the sounds and a mutation to the forward, and taking their elbow against each other as a sign of unity while the pace of song and rhythm of moving forward and backward gradually become faster. This ritual includes seven movements from the start until the final stage. Each of the team members also should spin themselves round seven times so that the number of seven is dominant in this ceremony. At the end of the ceremony, the leader says the term of Khanjar (dirk) and the team members raise their hands in the center of the circle above their head as the sign of a pavilion or a dome. This gesture is a symbol of unity and integration of all tribes and Turkmen and it also marks the victory of good over evil and the ritual ceremony of Zekre Khanjar ends with the implementation of union movement.