अस्तित्वम् तत् सत्।
It is written in Manusmriti “Dharmo Rakshati Rakshitah”, which means “Dharma protects the one who protects Dharma”.
Intuitive Rituals | Indian Traditional Heritage
A ritual is a sequence of activities involving gestures, words, actions, or objects, performed according to a set sequence. Rituals may be prescribed by the traditions of a community, including a religious community. Rituals are characterized, but not defined, by formalism, traditionalism, invariance, rule-governance, sacral symbolism, and performance.
Rituals are a feature of all known human societies. They include not only the worship rites and sacraments of organized religions and cults, but also rites of passage, atonement and purification rites, oaths of allegiance, dedication ceremonies, coronations and presidential inaugurations, marriages, funerals and more. Even common actions like hand-shaking and saying “hello” may be termed as rituals. The field of ritual studies has seen a number of conflicting definitions of the term. One given by Kyriakidis is that a ritual is an outsider’s or “etic” category for a set activity (or set of actions) that, to the outsider, seems irrational, non-contiguous, or illogical. The term can be used also by the insider or “emic” performer as an acknowledgement that this activity can be seen as such by the uninitiated onlooker.
Hinduism Rituals | Indian Customs
Hinduism is not just a religion in India. It is a way of life. In Hinduism, rituals are performed to bring spirituality into human life and inculcate feelings of devotion and religiosity. Rituals are not only celebrated during life but continue after death, including burial and cremation practices. For Hindus, it is the Vedas – the oldest spiritual scriptures in the world – that have shaped and influenced their rituals. The Vedas are a collection of hymns and rituals that date back thousands of years. These priceless texts were passed on to several generations through oral narration.
As an important theme of the household responsibilities, a devout Hindu is expected to perform certain rituals every day. The morning rituals may include taking a bath or physical self-purification, offering prayers to the Sun God, or Chanting the Gayatri mantra. The most common rituals practiced in all Hindu households are puja, meditation, silent prayers, yoga, recitation of scriptures from Bhagavad Gita or bhajans, reading religious books, participating in Satsang (prayer meets), performing charitable work, visiting a temple, and chanting the name of their beloved God. It is through these rituals, prayers, and sacred ceremonies that Hindus pay their reverence to God. Prayers or Pooja are an integral part of a Hindu devotee’s life. They perform these prayers under the assistance or guidance of Hindu priests or Brahmins. After every pooja, a sacred offering (or Prasad) is made to God. Such offerings are meant to be made without claiming reciprocal advantages as a mark of service to their Almighty. Hindus believe that performing these rituals help in their spiritual betterment. Few divine rituals are mentioned here;
Thimithi festival is celebrated in Tamil Nadu, in honour of Draupadi, the wife of the Pandavas. Legend has it that after the Mahabharata war (which was mainly fought by the Pandavas to avenge the insult the Kauravas had heaped on Draupadi), Draupadi walked through a bed of fire and emerged unscathed on the other side, thus proving her purity despite having 5 husbands. The festival entails the men of Tamil Nadu walking over a bed of burning coals. The walkers are not allowed to run across but have to take each step slowly. Sometimes, the devotees fall while walking causing burns to other body parts too. This ritual is observed in the villages where Draupadi is considered a village deity, to seek her blessings. Male devotees walk across a stretch of burning coal while balancing a pot of milk or water on their heads. It is believed that those who perform this act will be granted a wish or blessing by the goddess. The festival is celebrated in other countries like Sri Lanka, Singapore, South Africa, Malaysia and Mauritius.
Dhinga Gavar is an extension of the famous Rajasthani Gangaur festival although it is celebrated only in Jodhpur. The functions commence post sunset and happen at only 11 locations in the city. The Dhinga Gavar (another name for Parvati, Shiva’s consort) statues are dressed in Rajasthani attire and laden with gold ornaments. The deity is then offered cannabis and dry-fruits. On this evening, the women dress up in weird attires (anything from priests to dacoits or politicians – whatever catches their fancy) and parade the streets with a long stick in hand. If any man comes near the patrolling women, he is hit with the stick. It is believed that getting hit by the stick of the women will bring prosperity in a married man’s life. If the man is unmarried, it will speed things up in the marriage department. Thus, many bachelors deliberately visit the women and get hit with the stick so they get married soon!
One of the most terrifying rituals performed in parts of Maharashtra and Karnataka is the baby tossing ritual. The ritual, that takes place in December, involves the father scaling the temple stairs/walls with his baby in hand or tied behind his back. Once he reaches the top, the new-born is handed over to men standing at the top of the temple. The men swing the baby back and forth once or twice and then suddenly drop it 10-15 meters towards the ground. Another group of men wait on the ground holding blankets. As the baby falls on the blanket, it is allowed to bounce once and then immediately picked up and handed to the mother. This ritual is said to make babies stronger and healthier. Around 200 babies are tossed every year and the babies must strictly be less than 2 years old to be tossed.
The Aghori sadhus are wondering monks who renounce all earthly possessions in order to attain eternal spiritual liberation. These cannibalistic Aghoris are a very famous sect in India. They are cult followers of Lord Shiva and believe that everything nature provides can be consumed. They are one of the most well known cannibalistic tribes in India. They live near crematories or rivers where the dead are disposed. It is not uncommon to find an Aghori dragging a corpse from a river, meditating on it and then tearing it apart limb by limb, devouring each limb raw. They also use human bones and the skull as vessels – to drink from or to eat with.
Temples in most parts of South India serve food or prasadam on traditional plantain leaves. The food is eaten seated cross-legged on the ground. In the Made Snana tradition, the devotees finish eating the food and then lie on the ground and roll over the plantain leaves still containing the left-overs from the food. This practice is said to relieve the devotees of health issues and help them get healthier.
Founded by Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru of Sikhism, Hola Mohalla is a three-day event that usually falls in March, one day after the festival of Holi. It marks the beginning of the Sikh New Year and is held in the small town of Anandpur Sahib in Punjab, turning it into a rambunctious carnival setting. It showcases the fierce martial arts of Nihang Sikhs, as well as kirtan (religious chants), music and poetry, and ends with a glorious military-style procession.
Held by the Devargutta temple in Andhra Pradesh’s Kurnool during Dusshera, the Bani festival is celebrated by Hindu devotees, and is considered among the truly bizarre Indian traditions. Every year, hundreds of devotees from Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka gather with lathis (sticks) at the temple and hit each other over the head. The festival, which takes place at midnight, is held to commemorate Mala-Malleshwara’s (Shiva) killing of a demon. The ritual, where men hit each other on the head, takes place at midnight when the idols of the deities of Malamma (Parvati) and Malleshwara Swamy (a reincarnation of Lord Shiva) are brought out of the temple in a procession.
The men, most of whom are farmers, continue the ritual till dawn even if they are covered in blood. Medics are present to aid those who are injured. Police personnel are also deployed at the scene, however, they are limited to being audience members as sentiments regarding the rituals run high. This festival has reportedly been celebrated at the temple for over 100 years and was once apparently conducted using axes and spears instead of lathis. Over the last few years, many have been injured during the festival; however, no deaths have been reported.
In an extremely bizarre ritual, children with physical disabilities and certain handicaps are buried in the sand up to their necks on the day of the solar eclipse. Before sunrise, pits deep enough to fully cover the children are dug out. The children are placed inside the pit from anywhere between an hour to 6 hours! The “treatment” is said to cure the children of all their disabilities.
Lath Mar Holi is a part of Holi which is celebrated in the town of Barsana (town of Radha) near Mathura. It is said that Krishna would visit Radha in her village and the gopis or the women of the village would chase him away. Since then, village tradition has it that on Holi, the men from Nandgaon visit Barsana and the women beat up the men with sticks. There is no restriction and sometimes, men sustain grave injuries on their heads. In modern times, the men participating in the festival often use shields over their heads to protect themselves.
Legend has it that during the British era, the colonisers wanted to construct a railway track through the temple which would result in the demolition of the temple and so, the villagers were against it. During the construction of the temple, 187 coconut-shaped stones had been retrieved from the river near the temple. The Britishers, to challenge the locals, asked them to break all the stones over their head and the railway-line would not be built. The villagers miraculously succeeded. Since that day, during the Aadi festival, hundreds of people line up outside the temple where the priests break the coconuts over their heads! The practice has been continued despite grave medical injuries and warnings from doctors.
The inhumane custom is carried out in Bijalapur district of Karnataka where 3-month-old babies are dunked in boiling hot water. The baby is lifted immediately but does sustain severe burns. The ritual is to thank the deities and the priest for blessing the home with a child.
On the day of Ekadashi, celebrated one day after Diwali, in Ujjain and Bhopal, there is a huge celebration. As part of the ritual, the villagers dress up their cattle and decorate the bulls and cows with henna and paints. The villagers then garland themselves and lie flat, belly-side down on the ground. The cattle is then let loose and allowed to trample over the villagers. The villagers keep chanting their wishes while the cattle trample them. This ritual is said to help fulfill their desires and bring prosperity to the village.
In 2012, the Buddhist chanting of Ladakh was added to UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The tradition of Buddhist chanting is celebrated every day in monasteries and villages in Ladakh. Buddhist lamas (priests) chant and recite the teachings and philosophy of Lord Buddha for the spiritual and moral well-being of believers. The ritual is carried out in groups—monks don traditional attire and make use of bells, drums, cymbals, and trumpets.
During the monsoon season in the middle of June, Ambubachi Hindu Mela (festival) is celebrated annually in the honour of Devi Kamakhya at the Kamakhya Temple in Guwahati, Assam. The festival celebrates yearly menstrual cycle of Devi Kamakhya aka the Mother of Shakti (power), who represents the nurturing power of a fertile land. The temple is closed for three days during the festival, as it is believed that Mother Earth becomes unclean during her period. Post its purification, the temple is re-opened, Kamakhya is bathed and Prasad is offered. Since there is no idol of Devi Kamakhya, a yoni-shaped stone is cleaned with water and covered in red cloth.
This is a weird ritual practised by Hindu couples residing in Allahabad and Maharashtra. During a Hindu wedding, the husband and wife promise to spend not just one, but 7 lifetimes together. This promise is further strengthened by the Veni Daan ritual. According to this ritual, there is a big celebration and puja held at the Triveni Sangam in Allahabad. All the ceremonies performed during the wedding are carried out again. For the ceremony, the wife dresses up in traditional attire and ties her hair back in a plait. Once the ceremony is over, the wife sits on the husband’s lap and he cuts off a tuft of hair from her plait. The hair is then offered to the river. The family’s prosperity and happiness is ensured by this ritual.
In Hindu culture, serpent blessings are sought to bring peace and welfare to the family. The festival usually falls during the months of July and August. Several stories about its significance have been narrated in different mythologies and folklore, including in the Mahabharata, the Sanskrit epic. On this day, serpent deities made out of silver, wood or stone are worshipped with offerings of milk, sweets and flowers, and sometimes a real snake is used. It is also considered a taboo to dig the earth on Nag Panchami as it could harm the snakes.
For 15 days in May and April, India beholds the largest festive gathering of transgender and transvestite individuals at Koovagam in Tamilnadu. They commemorate their patron deity Aravan by marrying him in the temple. According to a Hindu legend, Aravan sacrificed himself in the Kurukshetra War. But Aravan wished to get married beforehand, and to meet his request Lord Krishna morphed into a woman named Mohini, who broke her bangles in despair after his death. Bangles are an important status symbol for married women in India. This bangle-smashing tradition is carried out every year at Aravan Temple in Tamil Nadu.
All over the world, various ethnicities perform different rituals to appease the rain gods. Few, however, are quite as unique as the ones performed in India. Here, frogs are married in a traditional Hindu wedding ceremony, with the hope it will appease the rain gods and initiate the onset of rains. The ritual is performed when the monsoon season (usually between June and September) is delayed, leading to a fear of drought in the largely agricultural nation. Before the ritual, a male frog is named Varun (the god of water), and the female frog is named Varsha (named after the monsoon or rainy season). The practice is so ingrained in the Indian culture and tradition that it is found across the country in multiple states like Assam, Maharashtra, and parts of Karnataka. In some parts of the country, the marriage of other animals like dogs and donkeys in a bid to please the rain gods is also common.
The Kumbh Mela (fair) is the world’s largest congregation of religious pilgrims. It rotates between these four pilgrimage destinations in a 12-year cycle: Haridwar, Allahabad, Nashik, and Ujjain. The last Kumbh Mela was held at Ujjain in 2016 and the next one will happen in 2022 at Haridwar. The main devotees are the Naga sadhus. Their solitary and extremely harsh lifestyle revolves around a monastic way of living. The significance of the fair for Hindus is to cleanse their sins by bathing in sacred waters.
Many have called Kashmir heaven on earth, but only those who have visited know that there’s so much more to the region than otherworldly valleys and pashmina shawls. Wazwan is less a cuisine and more a tradition among Kashmiris. It is art served on a traem (platter) that involves a 36-course meal. The dishes are cooked overnight under the supervision of a master chef, a vaste waze. Guests sit in the group of four and share from one traem. Kashmiri Muslims invoke the name of Allah before feasting, whereas Kashmiri Brahmins pray to Lord Rudra.
Another important tradition from India that made it to UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2010 is the classical Chhau dance, from Odisha. The dance is used as a form of storytelling on stage, using vivacious all-male troupes. It combines martial arts, acrobatics, athletics and its motifs highlight religious themes of Shaivism, Shaktism, and Vaishnavism. This folk dance is egalitarian and is celebrated every spring.
The Sankirtana dance is practiced by members of Manipur’s Vaishnav community at the center of a temple, where performers narrate the life and deeds of Krishna. Sometimes, the performances are so intense that it moves spectators to tears. The sole purpose of this dance and musical ritual is to gather the devotees in one place to glorify and celebrate the virtues of their God. In 2013, Sankirtana dance was inscribed in UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Rituals From Birth To Death | Indian Hinduism Customs
Hinduism is not just a religion in India. It is a way of life. In Hinduism, rituals are performed to bring spirituality into human life and inculcate feelings of devotion and religiosity. Rituals are not only celebrated during life but continue after death, including burial and cremation practices. For Hindus, it is the Vedas – the oldest spiritual scriptures in the world – that have shaped and influenced their rituals. The Vedas are a collection of hymns and rituals that date back thousands of years. These priceless texts were passed on to several generations through oral narration. As an important theme of the household responsibilities, a devout Hindu is expected to perform certain rituals every day. The morning rituals may include taking a bath or physical self-purification, offering prayers to the Sun God, or Chanting the Gayatri mantra. The most common rituals practiced in all Hindu households are puja, meditation, silent prayers, yoga, recitation of scriptures from Bhagavad Gita or bhajans, reading religious books, participating in Satsang (prayer meets), performing charitable work, visiting a temple, and chanting the name of their beloved God. It is through these rituals, prayers, and sacred ceremonies that Hindus pay their reverence to God. Prayers or Pooja are an integral part of a Hindu devotee’s life. They perform these prayers under the assistance or guidance of Hindu priests or Brahmins. After every pooja, a sacred offering (or Prasad) is made to God. Such offerings are meant to be made without claiming reciprocal advantages as a mark of service to their Almighty. Hindus believe that performing these rituals help in their spiritual betterment.
As per Hinduism, the Sanskar is a series of sacraments, sacrifices and rituals that serve as rites of passage and mark the various stages of the human life and to signify entry to a particular Ashrama (i.e. stage of life). The Sanskar is said to be helping for achieving spiritual nourishment, peace of mind and ultimately moksha. Sanskar give a spiritual touch to the important events at different stages of a Hindu life – right from pre-birth to post-death.
Sanskaras are the turning points of life and need to be celebrated. Celebrations are very important ingredients of Sanskaras. They directly or indirectly involve our respected elders, scholars, & dear ones. Everyone gets together to convey their best wishes & blessings to the concerned person and thus there is social & religious sanction for the act & ceremony. Sanskaras are great, time-tested tools in our traditional systems which help carve out a great personality. Apart from scriptural validation, history also proves to us the great effectiveness of these methods.
In this section we shall present an introduction to these famous sixteen Sanskaras of Hindus which cover the entire life span of a person and take him to the door steps to Truth.
All sources recognize this as the first Sanskar. This is the enthusiastic prayer for a child. This is done for fulfillment of parental duty to continue the race. To produce a good child, its mother and father should have pure thoughts and observe the rules of Shastras. God characterizing parents are necessary for bringing up a good child in the world.
This second sanskar Ceremony is performed during the third or the fourth month of pregnancy ,when the first signs of conception are seen, and is to be performed when someone desires a male child. The reason for expecting male child is believed to be in the belief that it is the male child who carries the Vansha forward. Like the first Sanskar i.e. Garbhadhan, Punsavana Sanskar is also restricted to the family members.
This Sanskar is performed during the seventh month of pregnancy and prayers are offered for the healthy physical and mental growth of the child. The other importance of this Sanskar is to free the expectant mother free from worries since the last 3 months are very difficult for pregnant woman- both physically and mentally. A Puja is performed for purification of the atmosphere and as an offering to God for the peace of mother and infant, for giving birth to a peaceful and holy child. This rite is primarily social and festival in nature, intended to keep the pregnant woman in good spirits. A future mother should have good thoughts at all times. She should place Picture of ‘Balgopal’ or ‘Laddu Gopal’ in her home. She should read the Gita and other scriptures in addition to performing her daily work and should avoid thrilling books and movies. During Solar and lunar eclipses, a woman should not use any kind of weapons. During normal times, she should avoid violent thoughts. Her husband should help keep her peaceful and cheerful.
Jaat-karma performed on six days from the birth of a child, is for the purification of the house. This is done in order to keep a child in a clean atmosphere where he may not incur any physical or mental problems. It is also called Shashthi. Goddess Shashthi is the protector of children. Jaat-karma is followed with Grah Puja, Homa.
This Sanskar is performed on the tenth , eleventh or twelth day with recitation of Mantras. The baby child gets name on completion of this Sanskar, according to the 27 Nakshatra and the position of the moon at the time of child’s birth. An appropriate name is given to the child according to the planetary position of birth time and the first letter of the name is taken from the Hora Shatra.
This ceremony is performed on or after 40 days, but some scriptures allow it at the time of naming ceremony when the child is taken out of the home for the first time. The reason for this Sanskar is to show obedience to the sun, moon, fire, wind etc, -the Panchmahabhut (Five elements) .This is supposed to enhance the age and physical and mental development of the child.
This sanskar is performed on sixth month, when the child is given solid food (anna) for the first time. Mantras recited and oblations are offered to the various deities. Sweet porridge or rice pudding can be given to the child, if parents are desirous of nourishment, holy luster, swiftness, or splendor. One of them with curd, honey and ghee is given it to the child while reciting Prasad Mantras.
This Sanskar is the first time cutting of hair on the child’s head . The ceremony is to be performed on an auspicious day after the age of one year. This ceremony is performed for the development of power better understanding, and for long life. The hair must be disposed of at holy places where no one can find the. Brahmins chant Mantras for a healthy, long life of the child. This Sanskar is restricted to the family level.
This sanskar is performed in the third or fifth year, Piercing of the ears. With the commencement of Surya Puja; the father should first address the right ear of the child with the mantra “Oh God may we hear bliss with our ears”, performed so that child may listen to good things and to have a good education.
Upanayana is the ceremony of wearing the sacred thread called Yajnopaveetam. When male child attains 5 years, the wearing of the sacred thread Yajnopaveetam, is ceremoniously done. This Sanskar is second birth for child – A spiritual birth. The child is thereafter authorized to perform all rituals. Studies of Vedas begins with the Guru.
The ceremony has six parts: – Puja: worshipping the Gods, Havan: sacrifice, Shiksha: teaching the morality and duties in life, Bhiksha: begging as a renounced Brahmchari of Gurukula. Teacher’s teaching has made him renounced minded that he has accepted a life of Vairagee, Diksha: giving the most sacred Gayatri Mantra to the child, and Blessings: child is bless by all Gods, Goddesses, ancestors, and elders. It is taking the child to the teacher for initiation of formal education. Along with the sacred thread, the hide of the antelope called Krishnajinam is also worn by the boy. The Upanayana ceremony is followed by brahmopadesha – teaching Gayatri mantra to the boy. (Cited in Manusmrti 2.27)
This Sanskar is done along with Upanayana. Vedarambha is the learning of Vedas and Upanishads in ‘Gurukula’ or ‘Pathashala’. In the beginning of each academic period there is a ceremony called Upakarm and at the end of each academic period there is another ceremony called Upasarjana. The child commences his journey on the road to spiritual life. This is contrasted with a life of eating, sleeping and procreating, which kinds of life animals also live. The child is sent to Gurukul.
Samavartan is the ceremony associated with the end of formal education of Vedas in ‘Gurukul’. After learning the rules of life he returns home from his Teacher’s Ashram. When he completes his education about and religion the law of life, his first Ashram Brahmacharya is complete. He is now eligible to enter into the householder stage, and considered a qualified man to get married.
This sanskar is entry into the second Ashram. The life as individual family begins. Vedic Hindu marriage is viewed as sacramental, which is a lifelong commitment of one wife and one husband. It is the strongest bond between a man and a woman, which takes place in the presence of their parents, relatives, and friends. The bride and groom walks around Agni hand in hand. The bride sacrifices grains in the fire and chants mantras.
This ceremony is performed at the age of 50, in some cases at the age of 60. With the commencement of his ceremony, a man completes his Grahastha Dharma and enters into Vanprastha Ashram (forest hermit). Man withdraws himself from all worldly activities, retires into the forest and prepares himself for taking sanyas. This is the life of a Vanprastha.
Before leaving the body a Hindu sheds all sense of responsibility & relationships to awake & revel in the timeless truth. A sanyasi renounces the world and leads a life of study and meditation by living on alms.
Antyeshti (literally, last rites), sometimes referred to as Antim-Sanskar, are the rituals associated with funeral. When death is imminent, a small piece of gold, tulsi leaf and drops of Ganga water are put in the mouth of the person on the death bed. The body is laid on the ground with the head towards the north. The eldest son generally performs the last rites before which he takes a purificatory bath amidst the chanting of mantras. The dead body is washed, perfumed and wrapped in a new white cloth and decked with flowers. For ten days following death, food is not prepared at home and relatives and friends take the responsibility of getting food for the family.
1slamism Rituals | Indian Customs
Purity is an essential aspect of Islam. It is the opposite of najāsa, the state of being ritually impure. It is achieved by first removing physical impurities (for example, urine) from the body, and then removing ritual impurity by means of wudu (usually) or ghusl. The Quran says: “In it there are men who love to observe purity and Allah loves those who maintain purity.”[Quran 9:108] and also there is one verse which concerned with Taharah or purity and impurity of Humans: “O you who have believed, indeed the polytheists are unclean, so let them not approach al-Masjid al-Haram after this, their [final] year. And if you fear privation, Allah will enrich you from His bounty if He wills. Indeed, Allah is knowing and wise.”[Quran 9:28]
The Five Pillars are the core beliefs and practices of Islam, are mentioned here;
Profession of Faith (Shahada): The belief that “There is no god but God, and Muhammad is the Messenger of God” is central to Islam. This phrase, written in Arabic, is often prominently featured in architecture and a range of objects, including the Qur’an, Islam’s holy book of divine revelations. One becomes a Muslim by reciting this phrase with conviction.
Prayer (Salat): Muslims pray facing Mecca five times a day: at dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset, and after dark. Prayer includes a recitation of the opening chapter (sura) of the Qur’an, and is sometimes performed on a small rug or mat used expressly for this purpose. Muslims can pray individually at any location or together in a mosque, where a leader in prayer (imam) guides the congregation. Men gather in the mosque for the noonday prayer on Friday; women are welcome but not obliged to participate. After the prayer, a sermon focuses on a passage from the Qur’an, followed by prayers by the imam and a discussion of a particular religious topic.
Alms (Zakat): In accordance with Islamic law, Muslims donate a fixed portion of their income to community members in need. Many rulers and wealthy Muslims build mosques, drinking fountains, hospitals, schools, and other institutions both as a religious duty and to secure the blessings associated with charity.
Fasting (Sawm): During the daylight hours of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, all healthy adult Muslims are required to abstain from food and drink. Through this temporary deprivation, they renew their awareness of and gratitude for everything God has provided in their lives—including the Qur’an, which was first revealed during this month. During Ramadan they share the hunger and thirst of the needy as a reminder of the religious duty to help those less fortunate.
Pilgrimage (Hajj): Every Muslim whose health and finances permit it must make at least one visit to the holy city of Mecca, in present-day Saudi Arabia. The Ka’ba, a cubical structure covered in black embroidered hangings, is at the center of the Haram Mosque in Mecca. Muslims believe that it is the house Abraham (Ibrahim in Arabic) built for God, and face in its direction (qibla) when they pray. Since the time of the Prophet Muhammad, believers from all over the world have gathered around the Ka’ba in Mecca on the eighth and twelfth days of the final month of the Islamic calendar.
Sikhism Rituals | Indian Customs
Sikh practices (Gurmukhi: ਸਿੱਖ ਅਭਿਆਸ; sikha abhi’āsa) are simple, unprecise and practical guidelines laid out by the Gurus for the practice of the “Sikh way of life”. The Gurus emphasise that a Sikh should lead a disciplined life engaged in Naam Simran, meditation on God’s name, Kirat Karni, living an honest life of a house-holder, and Wand kay Shako, sharing what one has with the community. This translates into hard work, honest living, love of fellow humans and through them service of the God, the primal power. This way of life is said to have been stripped of complications, myths, jargon, rituals and exploitation of man by man in the name of religion. No benefits are gained by where and to which family the person is born to – All have to undertake the rigours of Simran (meditation) and Sewa (selfless service) to progress spiritually. The Sri Guru Granth Sahib asks the Sikh to “Practice truth, contentment and kindness; this is the most excellent way of life. One who is so blessed by the Formless Lord God renounces selfishness, and becomes the dust of all. In addition to worship, there are other important rites and rituals within Sikhism. The Sikh Rehat Maryada is the Sikh Code of Conduct, giving instructions for all ceremonies. Few of them are mentioned here;
Christianism Rituals | Indian Customs
Depending on the specific denomination of Christianity, practices may include baptism, the Eucharist (Holy Communion or the Lord’s Supper), prayer (including the Lord’s Prayer), confession, confirmation, burial rites, marriage rites and the religious education of children. Most denominations have ordained clergy who lead regular communal worship services.
Christian rites, rituals, and ceremonies are not celebrated in one single sacred language. Many ritualistic Christian churches make a distinction between sacred language, liturgical language and vernacular language. The three important languages in the early Christian era were: Latin, Greek and Syriac. In Christian belief and practice, a sacrament is a rite, instituted by Christ, that confers grace, constituting a sacred mystery. The term is derived from the Latin word sacramentum, which was used to translate the Greek word for mystery. Views concerning both which rites are sacramental, and what it means for an act to be a sacrament, vary among Christian denominations and traditions. The Seven Sacraments are: Baptism, the Eucharist, Confirmation, Reconciliation, The Anointing of the Sick, Marriage, and Ordination. The two most important sacraments are Baptism and the Eucharist.
Baptism is seen as the sacrament of admission to the faith, bringing sanctifying grace to the person being baptized. In Catholicism the baptism of infants is the most common form, but unbaptized children or adults who wish to join the faith must also receive the sacrament. A person is to be baptized only once in their life, and the Catholic Church recognizes baptisms done by most other Christian denominations as valid. In the rite of baptism holy water is usually sprinkled or poured on the head by a priest who simultaneously invokes the Trinity with the words, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” The old self is said to die in the waters, and a new self emerges, mirroring the death and resurrection of Christ. Given that the sacrament is understood as a requirement for salvation, anyone, even non-baptized persons, can baptize someone as the situation requires.
The Eucharist, or Holy Communion, is another sacrament of initiation and can be received daily if desired. It is the central rite of Catholic worship. A baptized child’s First Communion is usually celebrated around age seven or eight and is preceded by their first confession (the sacrament of Reconciliation). During the mass the priest consecrates bread and wine, the elements of the Eucharist, which are transubstantiated into the body and blood of Christ. As a memorial of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and in a reflection of his Last Supper with his disciples, the congregation then shares in the sacred meal. Special lay ministers (i.e., non-priests) are trained to bring the consecrated elements to the ill or otherwise homebound so that all Catholics can participate.
Confirmation is the third sacrament of initiation and serves to “confirm” a baptized person in their faith. The rite of confirmation can occur as early as age 7 for children who were baptized as infants but is commonly received around age 13; it is performed immediately after baptism for adult converts. A bishop or priest normally performs the rite, which includes the laying on of hands in prayer and blessing and the anointing of the forehead with chrism (holy oil) with the words, ”Be sealed with the gifts of the Holy Spirit.” In so “sealing” that person as a member of the church, the outward rite of confirmation signifies the inner presence of the Holy Spirit, who is believed to provide the strength to live out a life of faith. At confirmation a Catholic may symbolically take the name of a saint to be his or her patron.
Also known as Confession or Penance, the sacrament of Reconciliation is seen as an opportunity for renewal and can be done as often as needed. Some Catholics participate weekly before receiving the Eucharist, whereas others may seek the sacrament only during the penitential seasons of Lent or Advent. Reconciliation is a means of obtaining pardon from God for sins for which the sinner is truly remorseful, and brings the sinner back into communion with God and the Church. The sacrament is an opportunity for self-reflection and requires that the person take full responsibility for his or her sins, both those in thought and in action. During the rite, sins are recounted privately to a priest, who is seen as a healer aiding the process, and the priest commonly assigns acts of penance, such as specific prayers or acts of restitution, to complete in the following days. A prayer of contrition is offered at the end of the confession, and the newly absolved Catholic is urged to refrain from repeating those sins.
Anointing of the Sick, formerly known as Extreme Unction, is a sacrament that is administered to give strength and comfort to the ill and to mystically unite their suffering with that of Christ during his Passion and death. This sacrament can be given to those who are afflicted with serious illness or injury, those who are awaiting surgery, the weakened elderly, or to ill children who are old enough to understand its significance. A person can receive the sacrament as many times as needed throughout their life, and a person with a chronic illness might be anointed again if the disease worsens. The rite can be performed in a home or hospital by a priest, who prays over the person and anoints their head and hands with chrism (holy oil). The priest may also administer the sacrament of the Eucharist if the person has been unable to receive it and can hear a confession if so desired. If a person is at the point of death, the priest also administers a special Apostolic blessing in what is known as the Last Rites.
In Catholicism marriage is a sacrament that a baptized man and a baptized woman administer to each other through their marriage vows and lifelong partnership. Given that to a Catholic sacramental marriage reflects the union of Christ with the church as his mystical body, marriage is understood to be an indissoluble union. The rite commonly takes place during a mass, with a priest serving as the minister of the mass and as a witness to the mutual consent of the couple. The marriage union is used to sanctify both the husband and wife by drawing them into a deeper understanding of God’s love and is intended to be fruitful, with any children to be raised within the teachings of the church.
Ordination, or Holy Orders, is a sacrament that is available only to men who are being ordained as deacons, priests, or bishops. As with Baptism and Confirmation, the sacrament is said to convey a special indelible “character” on the soul of the recipient. During the rite, which typically occurs during a special Sunday mass, a prayer and blessing is offered as a bishop lays his hands on the head of the man being ordained. In the case of the ordination of priests and bishops, this act confers the sacramental power to ordain (for bishops), baptize, confirm, witness marriages, absolve sins, and consecrate the Eucharist. Deacons can baptize, witness marriages, preach, and assist during the mass, but they cannot consecrate the Eucharist or hear confessions. With the exception of married deacons, an order restored by the Second Vatican Council, all ordained men are to be celibate.
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