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Hindu Rituals

Hinduism's ritual world is a manifestation of India's larger religious system, which varies by individual, village, and region. Hindus' religious life, according to Michaels (7), is primarily focused on devotion to gods such as Shiva, Shakti, Brahman, and Vishnu. Rituals that help to bring God and spirituality into the center of human life epitomize this piety. While some philosophical Hindus have abandoned the gods entirely in favor of intense meditation as a means of self-realization, all Hindu rituals are equally valid (8). More importantly, performing rituals in Hinduism play a critical part in fulfilling moral and social duties attributed to the three paths of liberation: bhaktimarga, jnanamarga, and karmamarga (Krishnamurthy 130). A devout Hindu is therefore expected to perform certain rituals on a daily basis as part of his householder’s responsibilities.

A variety of rituals involve making sacrificial offerings to gods, departed souls, human beings, as well as other living things. For instance, devout Hindus perform daily oblations of water to a variety of divinities at different times of the day (Krishnamurthy 130). Regarded as the most notable feature of the Hindu religious ritual, every practitioner must overcome impurity before or during the ritual procedures. Rosen (45) argues that purification, mainly with water is common in each of the Hindu religious actions. The morning ritual involve physical self-purification or bathing, intonation of the Gayatri mantra, offering prayers to the Sun, as well as applying specific religious marks on one’s body. On the other hand, these marks differ from person to another depending on his or her sect affiliations and caste.

Frazier (68) notes that most of the Hindu rituals were a requisite for the upper castes in the past, and are still observed in some regions. However, a majority of the Hindus follow diverse rituals based on ones beliefs, family traditions, social status, as well as the availability of time. For example, daily rituals performed in a Hindu household ranges from puja, silent prayers to meditation. Additionally, yoga, reading of the religious books, doing charitable work, reciting scriptures such as the bhajans, and visiting holy places are also common daily rituals (Rosen 60).

Yajnas is also a common outer form of Hindu ritual where offerings are made to the different gods in a systematic and prescribed manner by a qualified priest (Clothey et al. 30). This ritual is aimed at helping the worshippers achieve certain results in their lives. Chanting mantras is also a requisite during the ritual as it helps in full filling the unique desires. According to Krishnamurthy (131), the simplest form of yajna involves a householder offering a simple oblation in a sacred fire lit within the house. More complicated versions of this ritual, on the other hand, involves pouring chosen offerings into three to five fires while simultaneously invoking the gods and chanting the mantras.

Michaels (76) notes that the rise of Bhakti movement as well as the popularity of yogis has strengthened the existence of Japa, a ritual that involves the recitation of god’s names silently. This ritual serves the purpose of purifying the mind of the worshipper thus filling his or her consciousness with divine thoughts. Krishnamurthy (130) argues that continuous chanting of the God’s name creates body and mind vibrations that facilitate the transformation of the ordinary self.

Other rituals within this religion conforms to specific ceremonies such as pregnancy, birth, infancy, marriage, initiation, and death. For example, parting the hair of a pregnant woman three times upward as well as from the front aims at ensuring the ripening of the embryo (Frazier 45). Offering the hair of the infant to the deities is also common in warding off evil charms. Cremation is also the common form dealing with the dead where only the male members are allowed at the funeral site. After the funeral everyone is supposed to undergo a purifying bath.

Works Cited

Clothey, Fred W., et al. Hindu Ritual at the Margins: Innovations, Transformations, Reconsiderations. University of South Carolina Press, 2014. Studies in Comparative Religion. Print.

Frazier, J. Hindu Worldviews: Theories of Self, Ritual and Reality. Bloomsbury Academic, 2017. Print.

Krishnamurthy, S. "Rituals and the Participation of Urban Form: Informal and Formal Image Making Processes." City, Culture and Society, vol. 7, 01 Sept. 2016, pp. 129-138. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1016/j.ccs.2016.05.005.

Michaels, A. Homo Ritualis: Hindu Ritual and Its Significance for Ritual Theory. Oxford University Press, 2016. Oxford Ritual Studies Series. Print.

Rosen, J. Hinduism: Vaishnavism. Worldmark Encyclopedia of Religious Practices: Religions and Denominations, 2015. Print.

 

August 09, 2021
Category:

ReligionWorld

Subcategory:

Asia

Subject area:

HinduismIndia

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42

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