Research topic: Rituals

A ritual is a given action which is done at a particular place or at a particular time, usually both. Those who carry out rituals often wear special clothes or eat particular food. Rituals are found in all cultures and religions.

We distinguish between religious and non-religious rituals. The word was historically used to describe the way in which one contacted higher powers, and traditionally it has been connected with the holy or magical. Rituals are in turn part of a ceremony with symbolic value. Secular rituals describe phenomena in complex societies which do not have religious or magical connotations. In both religious and secular rituals, the ritual actions follow each other in a fixed order; they are social events, and they can be repeated. In many ways, one can talk about a ritual language and a ritual behaviour.

Rituals can be divided into various categories depending on when the ritual is carried out, where and by whom the actions are carried out, and which symbols are used. They can be divided broadly into two categories: calendric rituals associated with annual festivals and rites of passage associated with life-cycle events.


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Published Feb. 5, 2013 1:38 PM - Last modified June 28, 2017 11:25 AM