Life as a European volunteer in Stuttgart, Germany
For this weeks Active Culture event, we went on a trip to the Stuttgart Cem House. The Cem House, or “Cemevi” in Turkish, is a house of gathering and place of worship for the Alevi population in Stuttgart. Alevism is a religious branch of the Shia denomination of Islam, you can read more about it on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alevism.
The Alevitische Gemeinde Stuttgart and the Bund der Alevitischen Jugendlichen invited us to join them for a ceremony at the Cem House. It was a unique opportunity to learn more about the traditions and practices of this interesting religion. We received an extremely friendly welcome at the Cem House and took part in their ceremony of worship which was lead by a spiritual father, a descendant of Mohammed. The ceremony was mostly conducted in Turkish, but with some little bits of Arabic too. An important part of the ceremony was for the worshippers to break the fast together. Alevis are currently in a period of fast and hence they had not eaten all day. So after the prayers were conducted by the spiritual father, food was brought in and everyone sat together on cushions on the floor around little circular tables to enjoy the meal. The food was amazing and there was a great community atmosphere! Afterwards, we were offered cups of tea and were told all about how Alevism works and what happened during the ceremony (since we didn’t understand much of the Turkish…). All in all, it was an extremely interesting experience and we felt very humbled to be allowed to take part in this spiritual meeting. Thanks goes to Savas Kordu for organising this event and inviting us!