The central Alevi communal worship service is called a Jem (Turkish: Cem or ayini Jem, meaning congregational or assembly meeting), which is performed in special houses called as Cem Evi. Alevis believe that the Jem has its roots in an original worship and teaching meeting of forty spiritual individuals Kirklar Majlisi (Turkish: Kırklar Meclisi) led by Ali. It takes place in a Cem Evi
Ayin-î Cem (Jem ceremony)
The ceremony's supposed prototype is the Prophet Muhammad's nocturnal ascent into heaven, where he beheld a gathering of forty saints (Kırklar Meclisi), and the Divine Reality made manifest in their leader, Ali.
- During the "Jem ceremony" the Aşık plays the Bağlama whilst singing spiritual songs, some of which are centuries old and well known amongst Alevis. Every song, called a Nefes has spiritual meaning and aims to teach the participants important lessons. One such song goes thus:
- "Learn from your mistakes and be knowledgeable,
- Don't look for faults in others,
- Look at 73 different people in the same way,
- God loves and created them all, so don't say anything against them."
- The love of the creator for the created and vice versa is symbolised in the Cem ceremony by the use of fruit juice and/or red wine [Dem] which represents the intoxication of the lover in the beloved. During the ceremony is Dem one of the twelve duties of the participants.
- At the closing of the cem ceremony the dede who leads the ceremony engages the participants in a discussion, this discussion is called a sohbet.
The Semah (Samāh)
A family of ritual dances characterized by turning and swirling, is an inseparable part of any Cem. Semah is performed by men and women together, to the accompaniment of the bağlama. The dances symbolize (for example) the revolution of the planets around the Sun (by man and woman turning in circles), and the putting off of one’s self and uniting with God.
The Görgü Cem
The Rite of Integration (görgü cemi) is a complex ritual occasion in which a variety of tasks are allotted to incumbents bound together by extrafamilial brotherhood (Müsahiplik), who undertake a dramatization of unity and integration under the direction of the spiritual leader (dede).
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