The Alevi ceremonies are practised in alternating modes in different regions and countries. Such as in Iran CEM is different than Macedonia or Turkey, similarly Syrian Cem is different than Yemen etc. The reason of this diversity is that Alevi belief system has taken the philosophy of prayer to the center of rituals and they have combined the philosophy with their local culture when shaping/ formatting their prayers. They use different musical instruments, they have different songs (themes) according to musical traditions of their region, some has more talks, some has more music and SEMAH, however all rituals have the same or similar outlines.
They all start with attending peoples claim declaration that there is no person or group who have a conflict or struggle among each other. If tha tis the case without sorting out the conflict CEM does not start. In order to start CEM all participants should have no important claims from each other
Once the claim matter is ettled than an oath of unity is taken. People prove that they are all in one.
Always a light (a candle – Now a days electrcial) is burned up (CERAG) to witness the prayer.
12 Imams and their names are memorized with songs that we name as” Duvaz Imam” (Duvazdeh or other names)
Songs of UNITY (TAVHID- Unification of f Universe) songed.
Ascension fo Prophet Mohammed is memorized with prayers and quotations from QURAN with several stand-ups and prostrations(SAJDAH)
Return of prophet to the World and becoming a pariticipant in the activities of the group of 40. (Forties are sacred people of Muslim with 17 woman and 23 male characters.)
Celebrations of this unification with SEMAHS.
Distribution of water in memory of QARBALA massacre of Imam Hussain and his friends.
Closure of CEM by turning out the CEERAG (candle)
Distribution of food that was brought by participants (equally) among all participants.
That is the average flow of CEM ritual. Today espacially in Western Europe there are some grous who call themselves Alevi but do their cems in different manners,however such attempts do not find an acceptance in communities and they slowly (sometimes rapidly) return back to traditions.
The above CEM is our standrd weekly Thusrsday night prayers, due to the special conditions, memoriance of certain days, celebrations of say spring (Nevruz) etc. Some other motives may enter into CEM. You may find some info about those in attached document.
There is absolutely no distinction or discrimination of women in Cem’s, actually we normally have more woman than man participants in cities todat. The only exception to this in the whole Alevi World from Turkistan (Middle Asia) to Balkans is Nusyari Alevis in North West Syria and South East Turkey, their women does not participate in Cems.
There are many symbols that are used in CEM or in the life of Alevis. Such as;
Any one standing against DEDE stands in DAR. Tip of right foot on left toe. This symbolizes an event when İmam Hussain was a child and brought water to his grandfather (the Prophet) his left toe was bleeding due to an accidnet. As he did not want to agitate his grandfather he curtained his left toe by right one. Some others also claim that this motive represents position of HALLAJ-ı Mansur on cross.(Which is also representative for JESUS)
All service providers who will take duties in CEM put sup a tiny belt to their bellies. Indicating that sex is totally left outside and anybody in CEM hall is just creatures of GOD without any differentiation.
In the beginning of CEM; DEDE the leader, takes a representative ablution by washing his hands with water in the name of and on behalf of all participants. This is called (TARIQAT ABDEST) SECT ABLUTION.
Sharing all food (LOKMA) brought by participants equally represents egality and equal rights.
There may be other motives and symbols depending on geographical area, life style in that geography and traditions of different groups. I tried to summarize some basic answers in this paper.