Alevi-Bektashi tradition has evolved by interacting various beliefs, spiritual teachings and cultures over a wide geographical area from Central Asia to Anatolia and Balkan Mountains throughout the history. Listening to the sacred music in rituals and observing the ritual movement Semah, one can connect to it through different elements rooted in shamanism, Islam, mystic teachings and traditions travelled from Central Asia, Khorasan to Anatolia, Bektashi path, gnostic beliefs of ancient lands before religions, folkloric Anatolian culture etc.
In the weekly rituals called Ayin-i Cem, there are 12 services representing 12 imams of Shia belief, one of which includes singing of poems by mystic poets and minstrels, praising Allah, Muhammad, Ali, 12 imams, and mystic immortal personalities like Khidr (Hızır).
Semah is a musical form whose variations in terms of music and rhythm can be found in different regions. As a ritual dance, it is a calling to go into trance state and a means of reaching God through mystical and aesthetic movements in harmony with the rhythm of music and songs played by zakir (musician) Dede (the spiritual guide who leads the ritual) recites the poems and invites the community to pray. There are symbolic meanings behind all the segments, numbers of people and movements. For example, the bird crane (turna in Turkish) is considered as a messenger of Shah (Hz.Ali). That’s because the movements remind us of cranes. Women and men whirling together in a circle soar and fly like cranes, representing the oneness of souls and the path & journey towards Truth (Hak). .