Practices and Rituals

Religious rituals are among the major elements that makes a distinction between the many religious entities. Rituals are used as markers to indicate a qualification towards a achieving or attaining a certain qualification. Religious rituals have been performed for centuries in all places in the world. For instance, during my service in the US military I visited over fifty nations where I had an opportunity to be exposed to numerous religious practices and rituals. In Philippines I watched personal crucifixions and in the Middle East witnessed hours of unending prayer sessions taking place in addition to religious battles that have been experienced all through the Middle East.

I have opted for this topic due to the following reasons: firstly, religious rituals and practices are simply not done because they are fundamental religious customs. These practices and rituals create identities and preserve tradition. Rituals strengthen individuals’ beliefs and commitment towards a particular religious entity (Borg, 2008). A religion comprises of believes, feelings or perceptions that individuals adopt and these are maintained by ritual practices. Secondly, I chose this topic since when I observe the activities the religious individuals are involved in, am at all times struck by curiosity to knowing more about their practices. Questions are left lingering in my mind, for instance, why do individuals in the religious entities undertake certain ritual practices, like walking so many miles in order to take a bath in a particular river? Why do individuals engage in difficult practices like consuming certain type of foods or engage in food abstinence practices during certain periods?  In what ways does a person claim that a divine spirit speaks to them? At what religious levels does this take place?   Therefore, all these questions could only be explained through ritual practices. The third reason for opting for this topic is to reveal that ritual practices are simply not restricted to the precincts of churches, temples or other divine places. The truth is that even the most intellectual of the population live their lives’ guided by ritual practices. The day-to-day activities we are involved in are guided by rules and regulations that steer us through practical results, which are meaningful and structured (Oberle, 2008). Indeed religious individuals are observe and live their lives guided by practices which are preserved by rituals.

Question 2

Different religious groups undertake dissimilar rituals which are very significant to their entities and communities. The Indigenous People in North America undertake ceremonies along with rituals in order to worship or mollify the spirits. Rituals and beliefs depicted in various ceremonies indicate a mixture of interest by enhancing and maintaining their hunting, farming along with the survival of its individuals’. Festivals were incorporated in cultural rituals that were held during seasonal periods all through the year and were commonly practiced during significant agricultural periods (Mort & Slone, 2006). Hindus are involved in a lot of rituals such as the daily and seasonal rituals. For daily rituals are aimed at inculcating a sense of devotion and to attract the divine orientation towards their lives. For a Hindu it is necessary to perform particular rituals beginning from morning to evening.  These rituals include making offerings to gods, departed souls along with all beings prior to partaking food and when inviting others into the house (Harvey, 2005). The forehead mark on the Hindus is a ritual that is prescribed by their ancient traditions.

For Jains, rituals are very important since through them beliefs and values are shown. Whilst this religion stresses non-violence, it also emphasizes asceticism that is marked by particular religious practices. Rituals are extremely important in this religion: the prevalent ones include; blessing a feasible fetus, the child naming ceremony and birth celebration, the commencement of studies including other ceremonies such as marriage and death ceremonies. These rituals are meant for blessing and protecting the individuals or properties (Mort & Slone, 2006). Among the most important functions Buddhist rituals concerns strengthening individuals’ connection towards the Dharma and towards showing the respect, understanding the community and other experiential linked to Dharma. Among the types of Buddhist rituals are going to refuge, which is the oldest ritual in their traditions, this ritual enhances the connection to the Dharma. A second ritual involves providing respect to Buddhist teachers and teachings along with the Buddha. Others include is making offerings for dana, summoning spiritual forces for protection and confessions for sins performed. In addition to the above rituals meditation is among the prevalent rituals whereby individuals are required to mentally focus for a certain period of time in order to attain enlightenment (Borg, 2008). 

Rituals in Taoism seek to bring harmony into the universe, society and to the people. These rituals involve worshipping deities, meditation on talismans, and purification along with providing offerings for deities.  Priests undertake Taoist rituals due to their complicated nature. Among the important rituals is the chiao ritual, which is a cosmic revival. It incorporates every village family providing offerings to deities which are awarded to the priests (Harvey, 2005).  The Jewish religion comprises of specific occasions in an individual’s life, which are identified and celebrated since they are a significant part of this religion. Whilst at numerous occasions the rituals are aimed at a particular individual or group the families and rest of the community are involved in the ceremony (Oberle, 2008).  They include the circumcision covenant, which takes place on the eighth day after the birth of a boy. A second one is the child-naming ceremonies whereby they are taken to the synagogue and blessings are prayed upon them. The ritual of firstborn redemption is prevalent among the Judaists. They believe every first thing belongs to God. They refer to the scriptures. Almost all Christians engage in similar rituals such as baptism, sacramental or the Holy Communion (Mort & Slone, 2006). Baptism is a ritual performed in order to mark a certain transition to a mature Christian and whom God recognizes. Ritual practices are very essential to Muslims. This religion is known for its strict rules and regulations required to be followed by members.  Islamic rituals include prayers, fasting, animal sacrifices, and pilgrimage and animal offerings. These rituals are aimed at strengthening a Muslims faith.

Social rituals and religious rituals in my social setting has almost become the same thing. Individuals have practiced varying rituals over the years to a point where they have become part of them. For instance, circumcision is a prevalent social ritual in my community. This must be done in order for one to become whole and manly, however, female circumcision does not exist. This ritual is promoted and supported by the religion which encourages and congratulates individuals for undergoing the cut. Many other ritual ceremonies are performed like birthday and naming celebrations along with house opening parties and so on. Some of the things we do might seem trivial but they have become part of our ritual practices.

References

Harvey, G. (2005). Ritual and religious belief: A reader. New York: Routledge.

Borg, M. B. (2008). Some Ideas about the Persistence of Rituals. Implicit Religion, 11(1), 39-49. doi:10.1558/imre.v11i1.039

Oberle, F. P. (2008). Understanding Prayer, Worship, and Religious Ritual. Generations, 32(2), 55-56

Mort, J., & Slone, D. (2006). Considering the Rationality of Ritual Behavior. Method & Theory In The Study Of Religion, 18(4), 424-439. doi:10.1163/157006806778665558

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