Archive for June 1st, 2007

Santisima, photograph of folk retablo made by Ecuadoran santero Jiminez, ybonesy 2007, all rights reserved
Santisima Virgen Maria con Angeles, photograph of retablo by Ecuadoran santero and folk artist Claudio Jiminez, © 2007 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

We did a brainstorm on topics for red Ravine in this post and this one and one of our readers (thanks, mimbresman!) proposed we write about rituals. Rituals, like the way he always touches the shell of the airplane as he’s boarding. This spurred a flurry of comments on our rituals when we fly.

What is it about rituals? Why does it comfort us to recite a prayer or wear a particular cross at take-off?

Below is a citation on rituals from reference.com. Take a look. Rituals are everywhere. Rituals can come from our culture or society. Rituals can get passed from one family member to another. I picked up from my older sister the ritual of lifting my feet and scratching the interior ceiling of the car any time we crossed over a railroad track.

What are your rituals? Do a 15-minute writing practice on rituals, and if you have time, shape that practice into a short essay. Or, if you’d prefer, list your favorite ritual, along with the story of how it came to be yours, in the Comments section of this post.

A ritual is a set of actions, performed mainly for their symbolic value, which is prescribed by a religion or by the traditions of a community. A ritual may be performed at regular intervals, or on specific occasions, or at the discretion of individuals or communities. It may be performed by a single individual, by a group, or by the entire community; in arbitrary places, or in places especially reserved for it; either in public, in private, or before specific people. A ritual may be restricted to a certain subset of the community, and may enable or underscore the passage between religious or social states.

The purposes of rituals are varied; they include compliance with religious obligations or ideals, satisfaction of spiritual or emotional needs of the practitioners, strengthening of social bonds, demonstration of respect or submission, stating one’s affiliation, obtaining social acceptance or approval for some event — or, sometimes, just for the pleasure of the ritual itself.

Rituals of various kinds are a feature of almost all known human societies, past or present. They include not only the various worship rites and sacraments of organized religions and cults, but also the rites of passage of certain societies, oaths of allegiance, coronations, and presidential inaugurations, marriages and funerals, school “rush” traditions and graduations, club meetings, sports events, halloween parties and veteran parades, Christmas shopping, and more. Many activities that are ostensibly performed for concrete purposes, such as jury trials, execution of criminals, and scientific symposia, are loaded with purely symbolic actions prescribed by regulations or tradition, and thus partly ritualistic in nature. Even common actions like hand-shaking and saying hello are rituals.

Source: American Psychological Association (APA):
Ritual. (n.d.). Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia. Retrieved June 01, 2007, from Reference.com website: http://www.reference.com/browse/columbia/X-ritual
Chicago Manual Style (CMS):
Ritual. Reference.com. Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia. Columbia University Press.
Modern Language Association (MLA):
“Ritual.” Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia. Columbia University Press. 01 Jun. 2007.

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