Friday, July 12, 2024

Rites and Ceremonies


It is a universal fact that all communities have their own faith practices and calendars origi-nating from their particular cosmology.

Ayn-i Cem (the ritual of gathering) is the main ritual in Alevism. This special ritual is mod-elled on a mystical event, the Assembly of the Forty Beings (Kırklar Cemi), which includes 17 women and 23 men. They gather with the slogan of “all for one, one for all.” This narrative portrays a sacred and secret gathering in which the Prophet Muhammad, allegedly participated in, on his way back from Miraç (the heavenly journey in which he meets God). Ali, as the leader of this gathering, opens the secrets of the belief to the Prophet during the ceremony. The notable narrative used by Muhammed was “I am the city of knowledge but Ali is the gate.” The prophet is only able to enter the Assembly of the Forty beings as an equal, not as a prophet or member of higher class.

There are various forms of Cem, the most common cems being conducted on a weekly basis. In these gatherings, where men and women come together under the same roof, the belief community converse about daily as well as spiritual issues, sing Alevi deyiş (hymns), perform semah (ritual dance) and consume lokma (communal meal) at the end of the ritual. Given the idea that the humans are sacred within in the cosmos in Alevism, occasion-al muhabbet (conversation) is also frequently referred to as a part of the ritual. However, the significant gravity of the main cem rituals called ikrar (the admission) and görgü cemi (the manners ritual) must be undertaken if one is to practice Alevism.

Anyone who is born into an Alevi background is required to fulfil certain expectations. Although there are different local traditions, the common framework requires the person to have a musahip (eternal brother of the path). As an Alevi you are expected to observe certain moral principles. In this sense, the görgü cemi (the manners ritual) appears as a communal mechanism to evaluate each member of the community whether they observe these principles and codes, or not. Each participant is asked to declare if he or she has any complaints about any other members of the community. The community collectively judges those who are believed to violate any moral principles and they can be punished for their transgressions according to varying sanctions such as organizing a communal meal or pay-ing for a communal project. If he or she violates one of the main taboos such as adultery or murder, the punishment will be capital and he or she is excommunicated from every sphere of communal life. This system of communal control is celebrated by Alevis as a perfect form of human sociality.

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