The Nevşehir Hacıbektaş Semah Group established within the Ministry of Culture and Tourism has continued its work since 1997, and the group’s participation in national and international events is supported.
Established in 1987, the Gazi University Turkish Culture and Hacı Bektaş Veli Research Center conducts scholarly, objective and document-based studies related to Hacı Bektaş Veli. The Turkish Culture and Hacı Bektaş Veli Research Journal includes articles about Alevi-Bektaşi beliefs as they relate to Alevi and Turkish culture and has been published as a periodical since 1994. This center conducted the following projects with support from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism: “Printing and Distribution of the Works of Hacı Bektaş Veli to Commemorate the 800th Anniversary of His Birth” and “Celebrations on the Occasion of the 800th Anniversary of the Birth of Hacı Bektaş Veli” in 2009 as well as “The Semah Documentary of Our Intangible Cultural Heritage” in 2010. Moreover, a documentary project about the semah including the provinces of Adıyaman, Aydın, Ordu, Eskişehir, Isparta and Kütahya was executed in 2010 in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT).
The Alevi-Bektaşi Federation, which was established for the purpose of researching, safeguarding and promoting Alevi-Bektaşi culture, holds informative meetings about the doctrinal aspects of the semah, and leads the way in practical aspects by participating in many events and putting on semah performances. The Federation also organizes events to teach instruments such as the saz and bağlama because of the critical role music plays in the semah. The release of periodical and non-periodical publications in this area also provides an opportunity for academic discussion of the semah’s profound underlying significance. In 2013, the Alevi Bektaşi Federation organized “Alevi lyrics / National music” concerts that aimed to bring together examples of Alevi music in Turkey and Iran.
Semah ceremonies were conducted in the Louvre Museum Auditorium on April 13 and 14, 2013 as part of the 17th Festival de l’Imaginaire with support from the National Commission for UNESCO. The festival organized by La Maison des Cultures duMonde (World Cultures Institute) in France invited a team from Afyon and Tokat to dance the Semah, which was performed under the “Chants et danses du djem alevi” category, thus introducing the semah to the world.
Many civil society organizations conduct activities so that future generations will maintain and safeguard the semah ritual. The Şah Kulu Sultan Lodge offers courses related to semah training as part of the Fundamental Alevi Education Principles. There is separate semah training for the following age groups: 7-12, 14-25 and 40+. Each class is made up of 30 people, the majority of whom are women. The instructors use their knowledge and skill to teach students the historical, religious and philosophical aspects of the semah. After learning the theory of the semah, students learn the semah ritual with a hands-on approach.
The Karacaahmet Sultan Culture and Solidarity Association has been offering semah training courses for twenty years. Each training course consists of fifty male and female students. The classes are
divided into two parts: 12-15 years of age and 20-25 years of age. Those who successfully complete a one-year program of instruction earn a “Semah Training Course” certificate. The programs make sure students understand specific semah dance moves.
Veli Aykut, one of the representatives of the zakir tradition which clearly plays a crucial role in performing the semah ritual and transmitting it to younger generations, was proclaimed a Living Human Treasure in 2010.
The Semah, Alevi-Bektaşi Ritual was registered on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2010.